All posts in Heart Health

Pine Bark for psoriasis, hemorroids, high cholesterol, control blood sugar, and maintain arterial health

I use Standard Process Pine bark extract in my practice, here’s how it helps –

For plaque psoriasis people taking a 150 mg daily dose of pine bark extract over the course of six months experience 32 percent increased healing times, as well as reduction in treatment costs — pine bark extract helps!

In a separate study, female patients with chronic hemorrhoids, which includes 3rd and 4th degree cases, experience relief; 75 percent of those who took the extract showed no more hemorrhoid symptoms at all, compared to only half of the control group that received standard treatments.

In another study, researchers observed that pine bark extract improves the flexibility of blood vessel walls while simultaneously clearing out plaque that can cause reduced flow or blockages. This was discovered after testing the 150 mg daily dosage of pine bark extract on a group of 93 patients with blood- or artery-related disorders.

After two months of treatment with the extract, the patients who suffered from either high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, or blood sugar problems, experienced an average 54 percent increase in blood flow. And after three months on the protocol, average blood flows increased by more than 66 percent.

Pine bark extract appears to clear out the gunk in the blood vessels that builds up over time causing blockages.

Call August at 310-444-9393 to order your bottle of Pine Bark extract & have it shipped directly to you.

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Garlic helps slow and even reverse heart disease

Research done at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, involved 72 patients with blockages of at least one major cardiac artery. Half of them were told to take an aged garlic supplement twice a day, the other half a placebo.

After a year, CAT scans showed that those given the garlic had reductions of plaque in their arteries. The ones who took the placebo only got worse.

“Our study demonstrated the benefit of this supplement on both plaque changes over time and preventing new plaque formation,” said the lead researcher, cardiologist Matthew Budoff, M.D.

One effect of garlic is to lower blood levels of homocysteine, a marker for heart disease.

The study recommends taking 1,200 mg of garlic a day, split between morning and evening doses. Or, you can eat garlic in natural form, but it’s harder to measure the amount of nutrients that will give you.

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Eat Blueberries & Strawberries for Anthocyanins

A new study in the journal Circulation followed 93,600 women over 18 years. These women were followed-up every four years with information about their diet and this shows how you could reduce your risk of heart attack by 32 percent—naturally.1  Women are less likely to suffer from a heart attack then men. But when they do they are less likely to survive.2[ii] So take note…

Add blueberries and strawberries to your daily diet because these contain a specific subclass of flavonoids (antioxidants) called Anthocyanins. These Anthocyanins can actually dilate arteries. By dilating arteries, plaque can’t build up. This eliminates blockages.

Of course women still need to eat a balanced meal with vegetables, some fat and lots of lean protein. And they need to incorporate some sort of physical activity in their daily life.

The research shows, a handful of strawberries and blueberries may ward off what could be a fatal attack.

References: 1 http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/127/2/188

2 http://voices.yahoo.com/study-shows-blueberries-strawberries-could-reduce-11975192.html?cat=5

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Cholesterol and Statins

I don’t worry as much about people’s cholesterol level, I worry about their overall risk of heart disease. Too many practitioners are fixed on just LDL cholesterol and this leads to the overuse of statin drugs.

There are two common treatment approaches:

1) “Treat-to-target”–an approach that uses statins to force LDL cholesterol to less than 70 for high-risk patients and no higher than 130 for people not at risk
2) “Tailored treatment”–an approach that gives far less importance to LDL level, while weighing multiple risk factors to develop a variety of treatments including exercise, diet modification, etc.

Tailored treatment will prevent more coronary artery disease events while treating fewer people with high-dose statins.

Years ago, the Framingham Heart Study showed that total cholesterol levels below 160 caused heart disease problems to RISE! So it’s been well known for decades that low lower lowest is not good better best.

There is research on subjects in their 70’s that found elevated levels of total cholesterol were linked with REDUCED dementia risk in their later 70s. And elevated cholesterol throughout their 70s was associated with reduced dementia risk throughout their 80s.

Let’s talk about natural alternatives to the high cholesterol issue and reducing the risk of dementia as we age.

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Curcumin

Daily supplements of curcumin may benefit cardiovascular health to the same extent as exercise for postmenopausal women (data from a clinical trial conducted in Japan and published in the journal Nutrition Research Nov 2012).

Vascular health, as measured by flow-mediated dilation (FMD), improved equally in groups of women receiving the curcumin supplements and those receiving aerobic exercise training.

Another study, published recently in the British Journal of Nutrition indicated that decreased FMD is reported to be a predictor of future adverse cardiovascular events, with every one percent decrease in FMD associated with a 12% increase in risk.

I recommend regular ingestion of curcumin to my patients with spinal stenosis, numbness and tingling, spinal degeneration, and now with this report I’ll suggest it as a preventive measure against cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women. If a women can’t exercise curcumin is an alternative.

Curcumin has been linked to a range of health benefits, including potential protection against Alzheimer’s and protection against heart failure, diabetes and more.

The new study suggests that endothelial function may also be added to the list of potential benefits from curcumin.

Researchers from the University of Tsukuba recruited 32 post-menopausal women and assigned them to one of three groups: The first group acted as the controls, the second group underwent an aerobic exercise training regimen and the third group received a daily dose of 25 mg of curcumin.

The study lasted for eight weeks, after which the results showed that FMD increased significantly and equally by about 1.5% in both the exercise and curcumin groups, compared with no changes in the control group.

“The mechanism responsible for the curcumin-ingestion-induced improvement in endothelial function is unclear,” the researchers said.

“Curcumin exerts anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects by inhibiting tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), suggesting that its effect on endothelial function may be mediated by the suppression of inflammation and/or oxidative stress via down-regulation of TNF-alpha. However, TNF-alpha levels were not assessed in this study.

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Vitamin C update

ScienceDaily (July 16, 2012) — The recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, of vitamin C is less than half what it should be.

The RDA of vitamin C should be raised to 200 milligrams per day for adults, up from its current levels in the United States of 75 milligrams for women and 90 for men. It’s appropriate to seek optimum levels that will saturate cells and tissues. Vitamin C could help prevent chronic disease — heart disease, stroke, cancer, and the underlying issues that lead to them, such as high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, poor immune response and atherosclerosis.

A 200 milligram intake of vitamin C on a daily basis poses absolutely no risk. Smokers and older adults are at significant risk because they may not be getting this small amount.

Even marginal deficiency can lead to malaise, fatigue, and lethargy, researchers note. Healthier levels of vitamin C can enhance immune function, reduce inflammatory conditions such as atherosclerosis, and significantly lower blood pressure.

• A recent analysis of 29 human studies concluded that daily supplements of 500 milligrams of vitamin C significantly reduced blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and directly attributes to an estimated 400,000 deaths annually in the U.S.

• A study in Europe of almost 20,000 men and women found that mortality from cardiovascular disease was 60 percent lower when comparing the blood plasma concentration of vitamin C in the highest 20 percent of people to the lowest 20 percent.

• Another research effort found that men with the lowest serum vitamin C levels had a 62 percent higher risk of cancer-related death after a 12-16 year period, compared to those with the highest vitamin C levels.

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Daily Aspirin Use Linked to Risk of Both GI and Intracranial Bleeding

Low dose Aspirin has long been proven in secondary prevention for patients with moderate to high risk of cardiovascular events, but its benefit in primary prevention of heart disease has been controversial. Thanks to an Italian study we now know that weighing the benefits of aspirin therapy against the potential harms, benefits seem to be lower than expected. Taking a daily low-dose aspirin to prevent heart disease may actually increase the risk of major gastrointestinal (GI) or cerebral bleeding, Italian researchers found.

Daily prescribed aspirin was associated with a 55% relative increase in the risk of major bleeding — an excess of two bleeding cases per 1,000 patients treated each year colleagues reported in the June 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers found that the overall incidence rate of hemorrhagic events was 5.58 per 1,000 person-years for aspirin users, compared with 3.60 per 1,000 person-years for those who didn’t use aspirin, which translated to a 55% higher risk of bleeding in those on aspirin.

The researchers observed an excess risk of both GI and intracranial bleeding.

In addition to aspirin use, the risk of bleeding increased with age and was higher in men; individuals treated with antihypertensive agents; patients taking prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); and patients taking other antiplatelet and antithrombotic agents.

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Garlic has heart benefits

Daily intake of garlic may reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, says a researchers from Shandong University in China. Compared with placebo groups, garlic consumption is associated with a 5.4% reduction in cholesterol levels and a 6.5% reduction in triglyceride levels.

“Although the size of the effect is modest, garlic therapy should benefit patients with risk of cardiovascular diseases, as garlic may also reduce blood pressure, decrease plasma viscosity, etc.,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Garlic has been suggested to exhibit several health benefits, including inhibiting enzymes involved in lipid synthesis, decreasing platelet aggregation, preventing lipid peroxidation and increasing antioxidant status.

Garlic comes in different forms, including garlic powder (doses ranging from 600 mg to 900 mg per day), garlic oil (8.2 mg to 15 mg per day), or aged garlic extract (1.8 mg to 7.2 mg per day).

The most pronounced cholesterol-lowering effects were observed for garlic powder, while garlic oil produced the best triglyceride-lowering effects.

Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

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High Blood Pressure Risk Update

A rise in blood pressure during middle age significantly raises the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke during a person’s lifetime, report Northwestern University School of Medicine (Illinois, USA) researchers. Norrina Allen and colleagues analyzed data from 61,585 participants in the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project. Starting with baseline blood pressure readings at age 41, researchers measured blood pressure again at age 55, then followed the patients until the occurrence of a first heart attack or stroke, death or age 95.

Men who developed high blood pressure in middle age or who started out with high blood pressure had a 70% risk of having a heart attack or stroke, compared to a 41% risk for men who maintained low blood pressure or whose blood pressure decreased during the time period.

Women who developed high blood pressure had almost a 50% risk of a heart attack or stroke, compared to a 22% risk for those who kept their blood pressure low or saw a decrease.

People that maintain or reduce their blood pressure to normal levels by age 55 have the lowest lifetime risk for a heart attack or a stroke.

I urge my patient’s to prevent high blood pressure through exercise, diet and nutrition efforts. I will be happy to discuss this with you.

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Soy protein helps improve good cholesterol

Supplements of soy protein, but not milk protein, may improve blood levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, and enhance the overall cholesterol balance, according to a new study in the  European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Forty grams per day of soy protein was associated with significant decreases in total cholesterol levels, compared to carbohydrate supplements, and improvements in HDL levels, compared with milk protein. “Our study is the first randomized controlled trial to compare the effects of soy protein, milk protein and complex carbohydrate on serum lipids,” report researchers from the University of Mississippi, Tulane University and Kaiser Permanente Southern California.

“There is increasing evidence that consumption of soy protein in place of animal protein lowers blood cholesterol levels and may provide other cardiovascular benefits. Our study provides additional evidence that consumption of soy protein in place of carbohydrate might improve the lipid profile,” they added.

Led by Dr. Jiang He from Tulane University, the researchers recruited 352 healthy adults with an average age of 47.7 to participate in their randomized, controlled trial.

Participants were assigned to receive 40 grams per day supplementation of soy protein, milk protein or complex carbohydrate for eight weeks in a random order.

Results showed that, compared with carbohydrates, the soy protein was associated with a 3.97 mg/dl reduction in total cholesterol levels and a 0.12 mg/dl reduction in the ratio of total HDL cholesterol.

In addition, compared to milk protein, the soy protein was associated with a 1.54 mg/dl increase in HDL cholesterol levels and a 0.14 mg/dl decrease in the ratio of total HDL cholesterol.

On the other hand, milk protein supplementation was significantly associated with a 1.13 mg/dl decrease in HDL levels, compared to carb supplements, added the researchers.

“Our study suggests that soy protein supplement reduces total cholesterol and total/HDL cholesterol ratio compared with carbohydrate, and increases HDL and reduces total/HDL cholesterol ratio compared with milk protein,” and “The effect of milk protein did not confer a significant favorable effect on any lipid measures compared with carbohydrate.”

I have many patients that I recommend UltraMeal protein shakes (medical food) to that can contain either whey protein, soy protein or rice protein. It all depends on the individual.

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