Heart disease is the most common cause of death not just in the United States, but also worldwide. The term itself can be a bit broad, because there are a variety of diseases that can affect the heart. These include ischemic heart disease, arrhythmias, myocarditis, and many others. The ischemic type is what people generally refer to when they talk about heart disease.
Ischemic heart disease happens when the blood supply carrying oxygen to the heart is diminished. Decreased blood flow (and therefore oxygen) to any organ will result in ischemia. The heart is not like any other organ, though, so the issue is definitely more serious. The brain is the organ most sensitive to ischemia, as decreased blood flow to an area in the brain will result in its death within a few minutes. The heart is less sensitive, but not too tough. Heart muscles can handle ischemia for a maximum of six hours before dying. That’s why, in cardiology, they have the term “minutes are muscles,” because every minute can save muscle fibers from dying.
The disease occurs when the coronaries (the vessels supplying the heart) are occluded or undergo a spasm. This is usually due to the build-up of atherosclerotic plaques inside them, which narrow the lumen. The presentation of ischemic heart disease varies from person to person. For some, it can be asymptomatic, while for others, it can be so severe that it results in instant death. The causes of heart disease have long been debated. Let’s take a look at what some of the experts have to say; their thoughts may surprise you.
Dr. Dwight Lundell talked about the matter in 2014. He wrote an essay with the title “Heart Surgeon Declares On What Really Causes Heart Illness.” In this essay, Dr. Lundell talks about how unprocessed food can not only prevent, but also reverse, heart disease. He also believes this kind of healthy diet can help with high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, too.
He talked about how, as physicians, our egos get in the way of us admitting we are wrong. He explains that, with over twenty years of experience and having done over 5,000 open heart surgeries, it was finally time for him to correct the misconceptions about heart disease.
It has long been believed that high-fat diets increase the risk of atherosclerosis and, therefore, heart disease, but the heart surgeon believes otherwise. Due to this belief, doctors have been advising patients to lower their fat intake and increase their carbohydrate intake. Dr. Lundell says that a low-fat and high-carb diet can no longer be defended, because this kind of diet causes chronic inflammation of the blood vessels, thereby destroying them.
According to him, raising your blood sugar multiple times a day thanks to the high-carb diet is basically like scraping the inside of your blood vessels with sandpaper. He says, "Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding ... This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now."
A less controversial opinion of his is that excessive intake of omega-6 fatty acids is also terrible for blood vessels. This is something all cardiologists can get behind. Corn and soybean oils have a ratio of 15:1 of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which is disastrous and causes inflammation of blood vessels as well. The recommended ratio should not exceed 3:1, as our bodies aren’t built to handle loads of sugars and foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids.
So, what’s the solution according to Dr. Lundell? He believes the best diet is to eat proteins and complex carbohydrates, which are found in fruits and vegetables. To put it simply, eat the kind of food your grandmother would approve of. He also says we should be less concerned about saturated fat. We should go to olive oil, dairy, or meat for fat rather than increase our omega-6 fatty acid intake.
More research is being done, revealing that previous cholesterol claims are false; it is more important to focus on lipoproteins, which are the transporters that carry cholesterol in the blood. We always believed LDL is bad cholesterol while HDL is good cholesterol. Recently, however, it turns out that large LDL is not harmful either. The main issue is with the small LDL particles: these small particles can enter the lining of blood vessels and result in inflammation and damage. The National Lipid Association is now relying on LDL particle number rather than total LDL, but this practice isn’t being widely done.
Since we believed the main problem was with cholesterol, it made sense that the main treatment was low-fat and low-cholesterol diets in addition to cholesterol-lowering drugs. Now that we know previous ideas were wrong, it makes no sense to keep administering these drugs and following this kind of diet. The main cholesterol-lowering drugs used worldwide are called statins.
Dr. Frank Lipman had this to say about the issue: "The medical profession is obsessed with lowering your cholesterol because of misguided theories about cholesterol and heart disease. Why would we want to lower it when research actually shows three-quarters of people having a first heart attack, have normal cholesterol levels, and when data over thirty years from the well-known Framingham Heart Study showed that in most age groups, high cholesterol wasn't associated with more deaths?
In fact, for older people, deaths were more common with low cholesterol. The research is clear – statins are being prescribed based on an incorrect hypothesis, and they are not harmless."
Let’s talk about some of the side effects of statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs). For starters, it depleted an enzyme in the body called CoQ10, which is present in almost all the cells in the body. These enzymes act as an antioxidant and are very important in preventing cell death. It is essential to take supplemental CoQ10 if you’re receiving statins or a reduced form called ubiquinol, which the body can use as an antioxidant as well.
Another major side effect is insulin resistance. This is actually ironic, because insulin resistance increases a person’s risk of heart disease, which is why they’re taking statins in the first place. Insulin resistance can result in diabetes, although it is believed diabetes is a side effect of the drug and is simply hyperglycemia, not true type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, some doctors believe it is type 2 diabetes and, instead of simply stopping the statins, they instead add oral hypoglycemic medications and treat patients as diabetics for life.
The inhibition of vitamin K2 is another side effect of statins, which raises your risk of a stroke and heart failure. The list goes on and becomes more technical. As we can see, the side effects of statins are numerous and might actually end up increasing a person’s risk of heart disease rather than lowering it.
More research needs to be done to identify the exact causes and mechanisms of heart disease. Previous theories are losing credibility, and the management that is based upon them is actually making things worse instead of helping. New practices need to be applied all over the world, and doctors need to know this new information, because many of them are still prescribing statins and advising low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets.
Heart disease deserves funding and effort in order to know as much as possible so we can prevent it. What do you believe is the cause of the most common cause of death worldwide?