Cardiovascular Ddisease

Overcoming Cardiovascular Problems     
Laurie Lynch, ND

"Heart disease is sometimes referred to as the "silent killer". This is because many people don't know they have heart disease until they have a heart attack. Approximately once every twenty seconds in the U.S. someone has a heart attack" (Dr. Goel). The United States leads the world in death rates from heart disease" (Burton, p 711). "The AHA reports that ...every year about 1.5 million Americans suffer a heart attack - almost 500,000 of them die. According to the Arizona Heart Institute, about 60 percent of heart attack deaths occur within the first hour. Unfortunately, half of all victims refuse to believe they are having a heart attack and wait two or more hours before getting help. In addition, individuals who suffer a heart attack are at risk for a second attack" (2; AHA). So doesn't it make sense to learn about cardiovascular disease and its underlying causes and do what is necessary to eliminate these causes to recover completely or to prevent it in the first place?

"The cardiovascular system is comprised of the heart and blood vessels; blood is pumped by the heart and is circulated through the body through the blood vessels" (Balch, p 126).  "Your heart is a powerful muscle, working at a steady, rhythmic pace every second of every day of every year. The fuel for all of this activity is delivered by the blood flowing through the coronary arteries, the vessels that surround the heart, to supply the nutrients and oxygen your heart needs to carry on. If the flow is stopped, the heart muscle starves, its powerful rhythmic motion is disrupted, and you suffer from a stroke or possibly a fatal heart attack" (Mendell).   
"The cardiovascular system is comprised of the heart and blood vessels; blood is pumped by the heart and is circulated through the body through the blood vessels" (Balch, p 126).  "Your heart is a powerful muscle, working at a steady, rhythmic pace every second of every day of every year. The fuel for all of this activity is delivered by the blood flowing through the coronary arteries, the vessels that surround the heart, to supply the nutrients and oxygen your heart needs to carry on. If the flow is stopped, the heart muscle starves, its powerful rhythmic motion is disrupted, and you suffer from a stroke or possibly a fatal heart attack" (Mendell).

Cardiovascular diseases – such as heart attack, stroke, angina pectoris, atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis, and high blood pressure - and their risk factors are so interrelated that it is very difficult to say “where it all begins.” One place to look when sorting this out is with atherosclerosis. 1

Atherosclerosis is "characterized by atheromatous (fatty degeneration of the inner coat of the arteries; abnormal fatty deposit in an artery) deposits in and fibrosis of the inner layer of the arteries" (Webster). It "is the buildup of plaque in the arteries. It develops slowly, with soft, fatty streaks gradually accumulating along the inner walls of the arteries, especially where they branch. With time, the streaks grow larger and start hardening into plaque". Plaque can lead to aneurysms and blood clots, and clots ican result in thrombosis (blood clots obstructing the blood vessels), heart attack, and stroke.

Aneurysm occurs when the wall of a blood vessel weakens and balloons out. Like a balloon, the aneurysm can eventually burst. If this happens in a major artery, such as the aorta, it can lead to massive bleeding and death.

Blood.clots "continually form and dissolve in our bloodstream, and it is important that this balance be kept. Clots form when blood platelets encounter an injury. Because the body considers plaque buildup an injury, platelets rush to the scene and begin the clotting process. The formed clot may remain attached to the plaque and continue growing. A clot that grows to the point that it obstructs a blood vessel is called a thrombus. It can shut off the blood supply to some body tissues. If this occurs in a blood vessel that feeds the heart, it is called a coronary thrombosis. If it occurs in an artery in the brain, killing brain tissue, it is called a cerebral thrombosis.

"An embolus is a clot that has broken loose and traveled throughout the circulatory system. "In its travels, it may get stuck in a smaller artery, blocking the flow of blood. This blockage cuts off the supply of life-giving oxygen and nutrients, and the tissue fed by the artery dies. If an embolus lodges in an artery of the heart, depriving the heart of essential nutrients, a part of the heart can die - a heart attack. If the embolus lodges in an artery of the brain, it is a stroke" (1).

Arteriosclerosis is "characterized by abnormal thickening and hardening of the arterial walls with resulting loss of elasticity" (Webster;s Medical Dictionary).

Congestive heart failure -  " is an imbalance in pump function in which the heart fails to maintain adequate circulation of blood. The most severe manifestation of congestive heart failure is pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs. Patients with coexisting type 2 diabetes have an increased mortality rate" ( Mayo Clinic Proceedings).


"Your heart is the most important muscle in your body. A simple pulse test can help you determine how well your heart is functioning. The best time to check your pulse is first thing in the morning. If your pulse is under 60, your heart is functioning at a good pace. If your pulse is above 80, you may need to change your diet and lifestyle. if your pulse remains rapid, consult your health care provider to rule out problems. A chronically high pulse rate is often a precursor of hypertension. Taken daily, this pulse test can forewarn you of oncoming illness" (Balch, p. 127).

What are the symptoms and the precipitating causes of cardiovascular disease?

  •   Angina (Chest Pain) - "Angina literally means 'strangling in the chest'.  Caused by the blockage of a coronary artery by plaque or a blood clot, angina is a
    discomfort in the chest as a result of insufficient oxygen supply to the heart. Some individuals experience angina also as tightness or heaviness in the chest, and
    sometimes pain or discomfort in the neck, jaw, back, or arms. The condition can progress into Unstable Angina, a more serious condition recognized by
    angina experienced at rest as well as under exertion. Unstable Angina indicates a significantly stenotic (narrowed or constricted) artery (70% stenotic), and
    can be a sign of a recent or impending heart attack"

  •   *  Cough -  "Although it can be caused by a variety of inflammatory, allergic, and neoplastic disorders of the tracheo-bronchial tree, cough may be an
    important manifestation of left ventricular failure and frequently accompanies dyspnea(difficult or labored breathing), orthopnea (inability to breath except in
    an upright position),  and paroxysmal (sudden attack or spasm) nocturnal dyspnea"

  •    Cyanosis -  "Cyanosis is a bluish coloration of the skin and mucous membranes. Cyanosis has two principal causes - central and peripheral. In central
    cyanosis, arterial blood is unsaturated because of a reduced inspired oxygen concentration - as occurs at a high altitude (usually above 10,000 ft) - or
    because of impaired pulmonary function. Peripheral cyanosis is more common than central cyanosis and is caused by reduced blood flow to the extremities,
    particularly the distal portions"

  •   *  Syncope (Dizziness)   Vasovagal syncope, the most common cause of syncope, may occur in response to prolonged standing, emotional stress and
    physical exhaustion, pain, venipuncture, or the sight of blood. Orthostatic hypotension may be precipitated by hypovolemia, dehydration, or the excessive
    administration of antihypertensive drugs. Syncope secondary to a cardiac arrhythmia is usually virtually instantaneous in onset. Syncope accompanied by
    chest pain may occur in massive myocardial infarction. Exertional syncope is characteristic of aortic stenosis and hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy.
    Syncope of cardiovascular origin is not usually associated with convulsive movements or a postsyncopal confusional state, and consciousness is usually
    regained promptly"

  •   Fatigue -   "This nonspecific symptom is present in many cardiovascular and noncardiovascular disorders. Fatigue is an important manifestation of low
    cardiac output and impaired systemic perfusion in heart failure. It may also be seen in heart failure after excessive diuresis. Profound fatigue is observed in
    patients with large myocardial infarcts, as well as in those with hypertension who are receiving antihypertensive therapy and their blood pressure has been
    lowered too rapidly"

  •     High blood pressure (Hypertension (HTN)) -   "High blood pressure... is a condition considered present when systolic blood pressure is above 135 mm
    Hg or diastolic blood pressure is above 85 mm Hg. HTN increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, CHF, and kidney failure"
      High blood pressure
    "increases the heart's workload and can lead to increased arterial damage, opening the door further for atherosclerosis. This is because increased blood
    pressure scars the artery walls and causes damage.
    Where the damage occurs, more plaque is likely to form, and the plaque causes the artery walls to
    narrow and lose flexibility. This in turn causes the body to increase blood pressure.  High blood pressure is also the biggest risk factor for stroke. When high
    blood pressure exists with obesity, smoking, high blood cholesterol levels, or diabetes, the risk of heart attack or stroke increases several times

  •    High Cholesterol levels -  "bring increased risk. As LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) levels increase, CVD risk increases. When other risk factors
    are present, risk increases even more. A person's lipid levels are also affected by age, sex, heredity, and diet"
    (1). "It now appears that the primary culpret in
     heart disease is not high cholesterol levels, but the presence of oxidized cholesterol in the blood stream"
    (Burton, p711).

  •   .High Cholesterol levels -  "bring increased risk. As LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) levels increase, CVD risk increases. When other risk factors are present, risk increases even more. A person's lipid levels are also affected by age, sex, heredity, and diet" (1). "It now appears that the primary culpret in heart  disease is not high cholesterol levels, but the presence of oxidized cholesterol in the bloos stream" (Burton, p711).

  •    High Triglycerides" Triglycerides are fats carried in the blood from the food we eat. Excess calories, alcohol or sugar in the body are converted into
    triglycerides and stored in fat cells throughout the body ... Elevated triglyceride levels are an independent risk factor for heart disease. Many people with high
    triglycerides also have high
    LDL and low HDL
    levels, which are known heart attack risk factors" (The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. 2006, What You Need To Know
    About Triglycerides, .

  •    Heart Palpitations  -    "A variety of changes in cardiac rhythm or rate can cause palpitations, an unpleasant awareness of rapid or forceful beating of
    the heart. Anxiety is often responsible"
    (Goel). Palpitations can also be caused by a sudden drop in blood sugar levels.

  •    Arrhythmias -   are "disorders of the heart rhythm. The heart rhythm is controlled by electrical impulses,  which travel to each part of the heart along a
    system of conductive cells. Arrhythmias occur when there is a problem with this conduction system, or the heart muscle’s response to the electrical impulses.
    There are many types of arrhythmia ...  An arrhythmia is said to be ventricular when it originates in the lower chambers of the heart, and supraventricular or
    atrial when it originates in the upper chambers.

  •   "Tachycardia denotes a dangerously fast heartbeat, while bradycardia indicates dangerously slow rhythm (lower than 60 beats per minute.
    *  Fibrillation
    and flutter describe rapid, uncoordinated contraction of the muscle fibers constituting the myocardium: in fibrillation there is no recognizable
    contraction pattern, whereas flutter produces a recognizable but strange pattern... Many conditions and medications can cause bradycardia; it is a common
    finding in the elderly"
    (Shortness of Breath) – is defined as "Discomfort in breathing, at rest and during mild exertion. Discomfort in breathing is normal under heavy
    exertion. Another form, Nocturnal Dyspnea, awakens people  2-5 hours after falling asleep with feelings of breathlessness. Dypsnea can indicate a wide
    variety of diseases, although it usually indicates heart disease when onset progresses over ...Heart diseases that are frequently accompanied by dyspnea i
    nclude left ventricular failure, pulmonary venous hypertension, heart attach when accompanied by thoracic pain, and problems with the left atrium"

  •     Edema (Swelling) -   "Bilateral ankle edema, most prominent at the end of the day, is characteristic of  congestive heart failure. This diagnosis is strongly
    when edema is accompanied by exertional dyspnea. Cardiac edema is usually preceded by a gain of weight of 5 to 10 lb, is symmetric, and
    upward from  the ankles to the shins, thighs, and genitalia" (Goel).

  •    Infiltrative disease, such as cardiac amyloidosis and hemochromatosis, can progress to severe systolic dysfunction (7).

  •   Neuromuscular disease, collagen vascular disease, valvular heart disease, peripartum cardiomyopathy, and high-output heart failure (eg,
    from arteriovenous fistulas, severe anemia, Paget's disease) also may result in CHF"

  •   Dilated cardiomyopathy could be caused by "chronic viral myocardial infection, autoimmune mechanisms, and genetic factors that directly contribute to
    development of the disease
    (7 Index

  •   Pulmonary embolism (sudden obstruction of a blood vessel in the lungs).

 What are the underlying causes of cardiovascular disease?
"The only way to cure heart disease is to address those factors that put you at risk, making your arteries vulnerable to blocked blood flow in the first place" (Mendell).
 These factors include:

  •   Improper diet

  •   Vitamin deficiencies (especially tbe B vitamins and C) (7).

  •    Mineral deficiencies (especially Magnesium, found in green vegetables) "Lack of sufficient magnesium in your diet will increase your risk of heart disease"

  •   Fiber deficiencies

  •   Bad fats – "Excessive intake of dietary fats, especially saturated and trans fats, can increase your triglycerides" (Cleveland Clinic).

  •    Simple carbohydrates (refined sugar, white flour, white rice)"

*  Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, high triglycerides., high systolic blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Sugar reduces high density lipoproteins (HDL, good cholesterol), can raise low density lipoproteins (LDL, bad cholesterol). and can  diminish "functioning of two blood  proteins, albumin, and lipoproteins, which may reduce the body’s ability to handle fat and cholesterol.... The body changes sugar into 2 to 5 times more fat in the bloodstream than it does starch.... Diets high in sugar can cause free radicals and oxidative stress. Sugar can raise homocysteine levels in the blood stream (which can cause the oxydation of cholesterol, which causes arterial plaque).  High sucrose diets of subjects with peripheral vascular disease significantly increases platelet adhesion" (Appleton).
*  White flour - "
Highly refined breads, cereals, rice, pasta and crackers convert to sugar in the body much more quickly than whole-grain varieties, which may increase your triglyceride level" (Cleveland Clinic).

  •   Alcohol excess *  Long-term alcohol use is a leading cause of CHF" (7), "Alcoholic beverages are a significant contributor to elevated triglyceride levels" (Cleveland Clinic).

  •   "Cocaine abuse may also contribute to development of systolic dysfunction" (7).

  •   Smoking – "Smokers risk of heart attack is more than twice that of nonsmokers, and smokers risk of sudden cardiac death is two to four times that of nonsmokers" (1).

  •   Medicinal drugs (Iatrogenic diseases)- "The cause of most disease is in the poisonous drugs physicians superstitiously give in order to effect a cure" (Charles E. Page, M.D).  "Every drug increases and complicates the patients condition"( Robert Henderson, M.D). "In sickness the body is already loaded with impurities. By taking drug - medicines more impurities are added, thereby the case is ...harder to cure" (Elmer Lee, M.D.).  "The necessity of teaching mankind not to take drugs and medicines, is a duty incumbent upon all who know their uncertainty and injurious effects; and the time is not far distant when the drug system will be abandoned" (Charles Armbruster, M.D.;             

    *  Heart drugs such as Atenolol - could cause “cardiac failure.”  According to the Physician’s Desk Reference, "beta blockade carries the potential hazard of further depressing myocardial contractibility and precipitating more severe failure.”  Atenolol “may aggravate peripheral arterial circulatory disorders",  and cause " congestive heart failure", as well as numerous other harmful side effects.  According to a news release issued by University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas,."after discontinuing the medications and administering diuretics, the patients no longer exhibited the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema" (Mayo Clinic Proceedings).                                    
    *  Birth control pills -  "carry a risk of heart disease and stroke. The risk is magnified when women smoke or have high blood pressure" (2) 
    *  Diabetes drugs (
    thiazolidinediones) such as "Pioglitazone and Rosiglitazone
    can cause or exacerbate heart failure and pulmonary edema,... thiazolidinediones cause fluid overload and deterioration in cardiac status... (however) After discontinuing the medications and administering diuretics, the patients no longer exhibited the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema",.according to researchers in a study headed by Dr. Asra Kermani..                                                                                               
    *  Postoperative fluid replacement                                                                                                             
    *  Steroids                                                                                                                                                           
    *  Nnon.steroidal anti.inflammatory drugs                                                                                              
    *  Poor drug compliance, (severe rebound effects) especially in antihypertensive treatment

  •   Oxidation, ( a normal and important part of your body’s metabolism), "can cause damage when it results in the over production of free radicals, unbalanced molecules that increase when you are exposed to pollutants such as smog, cigarette smoke, pesticides, and food additives. In their attempt to become balanced, free radicals scavenge your tissues and organs, ripping into cell walls and weakening the walls of your arteries to encourage the build up of LDL (bad) cholesterol and set the stage for clotting, stroke and heart attacks" high cholesterol and high blood pressure are more likely indicators that heart disease exists, not underlying causes (Mendell)..
  •   Metabolic disorders
  •   Liver problems -. The liver "manufactures about 75 percent of its own cholesterol, and the rest we get from food; any more from the diet is broken down by the liver and excreted" (Mendell).
  •    Endocrine abnormalities (eg, acromegaly, diabetes mellitus, hypoglycemia, pheochromocytoma), and rare disorders (eg, porphyria).  If the blood sugar level falls low enough, the emergency part of the adrenal glands goes into action, and adrenalin enters the blood. This brings on the tachycardia or palpitations of the heart." (3,p.78).  "Hypoglycemia is often the final insult that wrecks a heart already burdened with hardened arteries. Some physicians have pointed out that heart attacks are most frequent four or five hours after eating heavy meals, and attribute these episodes to hypoglycemia.
  •   "Thyroid abnormalities (such as thyrotoxicosis ) can be responsible for CHF, especially in elderly patients. Thyroid hormone is a direct cardiac stimulant and can increase contractility and systolic performance. In hypothyroidism, lack of circulating thyroxine (T4) causes down-regulation of myocardial beta-adrenergic receptors and may modify the contractile process, leading to CHF. Patients with a structurally normal heart usually can tolerate excess thyroid hormone without experiencing compromised cardiac function. However, when underlying heart disease is present, hyperthyroidism may precipitate systolic heart failure; angina is often an early symptom. Arrhythmias, particularly atrial fibrilation and other supraventricular tachycardias, may worsen already-compromised cardiac function. Symptoms and signs of systolic dysfunction usually improve with treatment of thyroid disease (7).
  •   Infectious diseases (especially pneumonia) – "Infection can be an important cause of dilated cardiomyopathy and may present as acute myocarditis,
    ...CHF symptoms usually do not present until several weeks after the initial infection, suggesting a possible immunologic mechanism for development of systolic dysfunction  The most common viral cause of myocarditis is coxsackievirus B, but at least two dozen others, including hepatitis viruses, adenovirus, arbovirus, cytomegalovirus, echovirus, influenza virus, and HIV, are also possibilities.  Bacterial myocarditis (distinct from rheumatic carditis)....  can complicate "fulminant disease secondary to infection with brucella, clostridium, salmonella, toxigenic strains of Corynebacterium diphtheriae, Legionella pneumophila, meningococcus, and streptococcus. Lyme disease can cause myocarditis that may lead to transient left ventricular dysfunction or heart block.  In Central and South America, infection with the protozoa Trypanosoma cruzi (the causative agent in Chagas' disease) may result in acute myocarditis with development of biventricular heart failure many years later" (7). Fungal infection can also raise blood pressure and contribute to heart palpatations and heart attack.
  •   Toxin exposure – "Exposure to several toxic substances, including cobalt and such chemotherapeutic agents as doxorubicin hydrochloride (Adriamycin, Rubex), may cause dilated cardiomyopathy" (7).
  •    "Obesity - *Those who are overweight are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. The weight itself is not the culprit; rather, the excess pounds concentrate other risk factors. Obesity has a negative influence on blood pressure and cholesterol, and may lead to diabetes. And, of course, one of the reasons for obesity is a sedentary lifestyle" (1).
  •   Stress is also a contributing factor. Research indicates that there is a relationship between the risk of developing coronary heart disease and stress. This is because stress releases certain chemicals, which can increase heart rate and raise blood pressure. Stress also contributes indirectly to CVD, as people under stress may smoke and drink more than those who lead stress-free lives (1).
  •   Congenital problems – "defects in the heart that are present at birth, can also cause disease. According to the AHA, eight out of every 1,000 newborns have a congenital heart defect. Some defects are minor and may be unnoticed for years; yet other defects can cause major problems and threaten the life of the newborn. Surgery may be performed on the newborn to correct abnormal blood vessels, or missing or leaking valves. In most cases, an exact cause is rarely identified" (2).
  •   High levels of homocysteine, a by-product of protein metabolism in the body,  "damages blood vessels and so encourages the buildup of “bad” cholesterol as plaques. High levels can be a stronger indicator of heart disease than either cholesterol or blood pressure. According to one study, if your homocysteine levels are just 20 percent above normal, your risk of heart disease is significantly increased" (Mendell).

What are the standard medical treatments and their side effects?
Cholesterol-lowering drugs
– Since many people with heart disease also have elevated blood cholesterol levels, physicians have traditionally prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs...although ... research suggests that it is nit the levels of cholesterol but the levels of oxidized cholesterol which represent high risk for heart disease. It has been found that the drugs used to lower LDL cholesterol actually raise it in people who already have the highest levels . A study conducted in Finland reported that deaths from heart attacks and strokes were 46 percent higher in those taking cholesterol-lowering drugs".  And some of these drugs "lowers the levels of coenzyme Q10 in the blood stream, an antioxidant that helps the body resist heart damage" (Burton, p 718).

*  Blood thinners – (such as aspirin or Coumadin (warfarin), , "results from the Warfarin/Aspirin     Study in Heart Failure (WASH) show that aspirin and
warfarin provide no meaningful benefit to patients with heart failure... and could even be harmful" (Dr. John G. F. Cleland, American Heart Journal, July 2004,
Reuters Health.

*  Lanoxin, (digoxin)  used for Arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), angina (chest pain) and congestive heart failure Commonly prescribed for irregular heartbeat, digitalis drugs can also cause it. Other negative side effects include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and stomach pain—all effects that are the result of too high a dosage, and dosage levels are easily increased by interactions with other drugs and certain foods,

*  Digoxin, which slows the heart rate through the AV node, therefore decreasing the rate at which the electrical impulses conduct from the upper to the lower chambers; and Cardiac glycosides inhibit the membrane bound Na-K-ATPase transport system, leading to intracellular loss of potassium and a gain of sodium and calcium.  Increases in intracellular calcium enhance myocardial contraction and result in a positive inotropic effect.  Digoxin causes an increase in vagal tone which decreases the rate of SA node depolarization. 

"Digoxin is no better than placebo at restoring sinus rhythm in acute atrial fibrillation but lowers ventricular rate in the short term. (Essential medicine Library, Clinical Evidence Issue, 6 December 2001)"  "potentially life-threatening digoxin (or digitoxin) intoxication"

Digoxin has numerous and multifarious side-effects. The most dangerous are severe (but rare) ventricular arrhythmias that may be accompanied by a complete atrioventricular block. Frequent side-effects are the loss of appetite, nausea, an upset stomach, bradycardia and ventricular extrasystoles.

Digoxin occasionally leads to neuropsychiatric complications (confusion, sleep disturbances, etc.), gynecomastia, atypical vaginal smear during the postmenopause; eosinophilia, or thrombocytopenia and exanthema. Visual complications (e.g. disturbed sense of color) are rare.

Cardiac adverse reactions accounted for about one-half, gastrointestinal disturbances for about one-fourth, and CNS (central nervous system) and other toxicity for about one-fourth of these adverse reactions. In a large mortality trial, the incidence of hospitalization for suspected digoxin toxicity was 2% in patients taking digoxin tablets compared to 0.9% in patients taking placebo. In this trial, the most common manifestations of digoxin toxicity included gastrointestinal and cardiac disturbances; CNS manifestations were less common.

High doses of digoxin may produce a variety of rhythm disturbances, such as first-degree, second-degree (Wenckebach), or third-degree heart block (including asystole); atrial tachycardia with block; AV dissociation; accelerated junctional (nodal) rhythm; unifocal or multiform ventricular premature contractions (especially bigeminy or trigeminy); ventricular tachycardia; and ventricular fibrillation. Digoxin produces PR prolongation and ST segment depression which should not by themselves be considered digoxin toxicity. Cardiac toxicity can also occur at therapeutic doses in patients who have conditions which may alter their sensitivity to digoxin

Gastrointestinal: Digoxin may cause anorexia, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Rarely, the use of digoxin has been associated with abdominal pain, intestinal ischemia, and hemorrhagic necrosis of the intestines.

CNS: Digoxin can produce visual disturbances (blurred or yellow vision), headache, weakness, dizziness, apathy, confusion, and mental disturbances (such as anxiety, depression, delirium, and hallucination).

Other: Gynecomastia has been occasionally observed following the prolonged use of digoxin. Thrombocytopenia and maculopapular rash and other skin reactions have been rarely observed. visual disturbances and altered mental status.  Digoxin is an example of a drug which can accumulate and exert toxic effects as renal function declines with age. The adverse reactions which occur are often not recognised when the patient has been taking digoxin for many years.

*  "Nitrate drugs, such as amyl nitrate (nitroglycerine) used for angina pain. Common side effects of these drugs are fainting upon standing, rebound angina and hypertension, and severe headaches" (Mendell)

 *  Blood pressure-lowering medications include diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers. All of these have potentially dangerous side effects, and should be taken only as a last resort. If you’re a man, anti-hypertensive drugs can impair your sex life, causing erectile dysfunction as a result of altering blood flow" (Mendell)

       * Diuretics, such as Lasix (furosemide), which act by causing you to urinate more, thus reducing the volume of blood in vessels by reducing its water content. The problem with Lasix and some other diuretics is that you lose minerals in your urine that are necessary for good heart function, such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium, as well as vital B vitamins. Other possible side effects are loss of appetite, gout, vision problems, digestive problems, headaches, skin problems, and restlessness" (Mendell)

       *  "Beta-blockers, such as Tenorimin (atenolol), Sectral (acebutolol), Lopressor (metoprolol), and Inderal (propranolol) lower blood pressure by weakening the force of the heartbeat to reduce the surge of blood with each beat. These drugs can actually cause congestive heart failure, stroke, heart attack, and asthma, and they may make blood vessel problems worse. They have dozens of adverse effects which are listed on the drug information insert" (). For example,   Atenolol - a heart drug could cause side effects such as “cardiac failure.”  “Beta blockade carries the potential hazard of further depressing myocardial contractibility and precipitating more severe failure.”  Atenolol could also cause “renal and hepatic disease and electrolyte imbalance… (and) should be discontinued before carrying out tests for parathyroid function.  Atenolol “may aggravate peripheral arterial circulatory disorders.”   use of Atenolol has been reported to cause “elevated liver enzymes and /or billi Rubin, hallucinations, headache, impotence,Peyrone’s disease, postural hypotension, which may be associated with syncope, psoriasiform rash, ,,,psychosis, purpura, …alopecia, thrombocytopenia, and visual disturbances.(and) like other beta blockers, has been associated with the development of antinuclear antibodies and lupus syndrome.”  It could  cause “increases uric acid and decreases in serum potassium “  “The predominant symptoms reported following Atenolol overdose are lethargy, disorder of respiratory drive, wheezing, sinus pause, and bradycardia… congestive heart failure, hypo tension, bronchospasm, and./or hypoglycemia.” (PDR).

     *  "ACE Inhibitors, such as Capoten (captopril), Lotensin (benazepril), Vasotec (enalapril), Accupril (quinapril), Zestril (lisinopril), and Cozaar (losartan) lower blood pressure by suppressing body signals that cause a rise in blood pressure. This ...puts you at a real disadvantage if you need to exert yourself. Another problem is that body tissues that need blood are deprived of it and produce waste products that cause the heart to beat faster (raise the pressure) in order for more blood to be delivered to the site. This worsens the very situation the drugs are aimed at remedying. If the deprived tissues are in the brain, then a stroke is possible. Side effects of these drugs include a persistent cough that causes loss of sleep and the need for yet more drugs to suppress the cough and treat the insomnia. As is common with all drugs that lower blood pressure, you may experience headaches, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, rash, vision, and taste disturbances. Some ACE inhibitors have been known to cause breast enlargement in men" (Mendell)

      *  "Calcium channel blockers such as Norvasc (amlodipine), Cardizem (diltiazem), Vascor (bepridil), and Procardia (nifedipine) work by blocking the flow of calcium in and out of heart cells, thus preventing rapid smooth muscle contractions resulting in lower blood pressure. These drugs are newer, costlier, and more widely prescribed than other blood pressure drugs, yet are also among the most dangerous. New research is showing they do not prevent heart attack and may even increase the risk of death. In a study presented at the meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in August, 2000, it was shown that for patients using calcium channel blockers, risk of heart failure was 26 percent higher than for those using diuretics, beta-blockers, or ACE inhibitors. Again, many people report a nagging cough, in addition to irregular heartbeat, dangerously low blood pressure, overly slowed heart rate, congestive heart failure, heart attack, gastrointestinal bleeding, damage to liver and kidneys, and reduced immunity" (Mendell)

 * Cholesterol-lowering drugs appear to treat the perceived symptom while making the problem worse in the long run.  "High levels of cholesterol do not cause heart disease, and simply lowering cholesterol will not make heart disease go away. Researchers at the University of Illinois recently showed that in patients who had bypass surgery for serious blockage, up to 50 percent had cholesterol readings of below 200, supposedly an indicator of excellent cardiovascular health. ...

"Cholesterol is a fat-like material found in the brain, nerves, blood, bile and liver. It is an essential component in producing your stress and sex hormones—cortisone, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and DHEA—and in maintaining nerve function, as well as other important bodily processes. The damage to blood vessels occurs when oxidized cholesterol is deposited on artery walls, not simply cholesterol itself. the process by which free-radical damage occurs, making vessels vulnerable to the build up of substances called plaques. Oxidized bad LDL cholesterol is the real culprit in heart disease, not merely the deposits on artery walls of cholesterol itself"(Mendell)

."Bile-blocking cholesterol drugs, such as Questran (cholestryamine) and Colestid (colestipol HCL) work mainly by blocking production of bile, a substance released by the liver to increase the absorption of fats, and by blocking the production of cholesterol. They are especially hard on the liver, making it work overtime to take up more cholesterol from the blood. They also lower levels of vitamin E, causing a deficiency which is a known factor in heart disease. Bile-blockers also deplete folic acid, which in turn raises homocysteine levels, another risk factor for heart disease. Most alarming are the results of studies showing that rats given Questran grew cancerous tumors" (Mendell)

 "Cholesterol-blockers, or statins, marketed under the names Lipitor (atovastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin) and Zocor (simvastatin) work by blocking the enzyme needed to make cholesterol in the body..... Side effects include liver damage, stomach ulcers, and rhabdomolysis, a disease that destroys muscle tissue. Statins block the production of coenzyme Q10, a substance in your body that is essential to a healthy heart and muscles. Once again, we see a drug given to reverse heart disease, but which instead robs you of your natural defenses against it" (Mendell)

*  Chelation therapy
Mild reactions may include, but are not limited to, local irritation at the infusion site, skin reactions, nausea, headache, dizziness, hypoglycemia, fever, leg cramps, or loose bowel movements. Some of the more serious complications reported have included hypocalcemia, kidney damage, decreased clotting ability, anemia, bone marrow damage, insulin shock, thrombophlebitis with embolism, and even rare deaths.. (Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, Published December, 2002 by the Gale Group)

Unfortunately, X-rays and biopsies later showed that chelation had no effect at all on calcium within the arteries, and this early theory was discounted.

What are the safe natural remedies for cardiovascular disease?
"Overwhelming evidence shows that the risks of heart attacks and strokes can be greatly decreased through dietary changes, exercise, stress reduction, and nutritional supplementation to help prevent excess oxidation of cholesterol in the blood stream"
(Burton, p 711).

  •  "Regular physical exercise—half an hour, four or five days a week—raises the good HDL" (Heart Drugs And Their Natural Alternatives,
  •   Avoid exposure to chemical such as pesticides, solvents, glues, dyes, paints, and PCBs, which create free-radical damage to your tissues when they accumulate in the body
  •   Drink eight to ten glasses of pure, filtered water daily to flush toxic substances from your blood and organs.
  •   Learn Stress Reduction techniques and Self Hypnosis with Laurie Lynch, ND, CHt.  (910) 426-5159.
  •   Proper diet – "A fresh, whole food diet will help you increase your levels of this mineral, which is essential for prevention and treatment of any heart disorder.  In the study, researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine showed that mice "fed a diet rich in vegetables were less likely to develop atherosclerosis. ... Sixteen weeks later, mice fed vegetables had 38 percent less buildup of fatty plaques in their arteries, along with a reduction in total cholesterol and body weight. Further, mice that ate a vegetable-rich diet had a 37 percent reduction in a marker of inflammation called serum amyloid, which suggests the vegetables may fight inflammation. (Inflammation in the arteries is linked to atherosclerosis.)" ( 

    "You can raise your potassium intake by eating bananas, apples, avocados, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupes, and apricots. Fresh celery, as much as four stalks a day has been known to significantly reduce blood pressure. Try drinking a fresh carrot/celery juice mix daily. A diet of highly processed food can cause imbalance between sodium, potassium, and magnesium" (Mendell).

  •   Antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E play a key role in protecting the lipid layer of cell membranes in artery walls. Remember, the problem is not how high your cholesterol reading is, but how badly oxidized it is. Vitamin E is especially protective, as it prevents LDL cholesterol from being oxidized by free radicals in your blood. In one study, ingesting 800 IU daily brought a 26 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol production. To add more vitamin E to your diet, eat foods that contain healthy fats, like whole grains, nuts, seeds, greens, vegetable oils, eggs, and avocados" (Mendell) Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to buy natural vitamin supplements. They are all either made from coal tar, petrolium, or are genetically engineered, and contribute to cancer development.
  •   A Wellness Consultation with Laurie Lynch, N.D. will provide you with information on the specific foods and herbs that are highest in various vitamins and minerals, and will also provide information on the specific foods, herbs, and methods to eliminate the causes of your health problems, regulate blood pressure, cholesterol, etc., regenerate weak glands and organs, and nourish your body back to health.  Dr. Lynch can be reached at The Living Well Health & Education Center @ (910) 426-5159.


*.  1996 by The Enrich Corporation.                                        
*.  Prescription for Nutritional Healing by James F. Balch, M.D., Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., 1990
* Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., 1991
* Editors, 'Hot peppers and substance P', Lancet, 1983, i, p. 1,198
*  Wang, J.P., Hsu, M.F. and Teng, C.M., 'Antiplatelet effect of capsaicin', Thrombosis Research, 1984, 36, pp. 497-507
* Hans Langsjoen, M.D.; Peter Langsjoen, M.D., Per Langsjoen, M.D.; Richard Willis, Ph.D.; Karl Folkers, Ph.D.; Institute for Biomedical Research, The University of Texas at Austin; Austin, Texas
* Let's Live Magazine, May 1995, Brigitte Mars
* The Doctor's Vitamin and Mineral Encyclopedia by Sheldon Saul Hendler, M.D., Ph.D., 1990
* Kendler BS. 'Garlic ( Allium sativum) and onion ( Allium cepa): A review of their relationship to cardiovascular disease'. Preventive Medicine. 16:670-685, 1987
* Lau BHS, adetumbi MA and Sanchez A. Allium sativum (garlic) and atheroscleroisis: A review.
Nutrition Research. 3:119-128, 1983
* The Doctors' Vitamin and Mineral Encyclopedia by Sheldon Saul Hendler, M.D., Ph.D, 1990
* Dr. Goel, 2006, Symptoms and Conditions,
 Curbing the High Cost of Cardiovascular Disease,
* Dr. Earl Mindell,  Common Drugs With Dangerous Side Effects And Their Natural Alternatives,
* Cholesterol and Your Heart,  1994 American Heart Association
*  Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 9/9/2003,Two Commonly Prescribed Diabetes Drugs May Cause Heart Failure And Fluid Buildup, news release issued by University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas.
* Precipitating causes of heart failure,      Index
* Dr. John G. F. Cleland, American Heart Journal, July 2004, Reuters Health.
* The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
2006, What You Need To Know About Triglycerides, .
* Nancy Appleton, PhD, 146 Reasons Why Sugar Is Ruining Your Health,;
* Scanto, S. and Yudkin, J. "The Effect of Dietary Sucrose on Blood Lipids, Serum Insulin, Platelet Adhesiveness and Body Weight in Human Volunteers,"  Postgraduate Medicine Journal. 1969;45:602-607;
Pamplona, R., et al. “Mechanisms of Glycation in Atherogenesis.” Medical Hypotheses. Mar 1993;40(3):174-81; Yudkin, J. "Sugar Consumption and Myocardial Infarction." Lancet..Feb 6, 1971
, 1(7693):296-297; Reiser, S. "Effects of Dietary Sugars on Metabolic Risk Factors Associated with Heart Disease." Nutritional Health. 1985;203-216;  Reiser, S. "Effects of Dietary Sugars on Metabolic Risk Factors Associated with Heart Disease." Nutritional Health. 1985;203:216;  Preuss, H. G. “Sugar-Induced Blood Pressure Elevations Over the Lifespan of Three Substrains of Wistar Rats”,
 J Am Coll of Nutrition, 1998;17(1) 36-37)
* (

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