Category Archives: Heart Health

The Truth Behind Fish Oil Supplements

Fish oil supplements have long been promoted as an easy addition to the diet for individuals looking to protect their heart health, ease inflammation, improve mental health and even to increase longevity. They are one of the most commonly consumed dietary supplements, taken for their rich levels of omega-3 fatty acids and widely believed health benefits. Americans are estimated to spend more than $1 billion a year on over-the-counter fish oil products and companies nationwide are incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into dairy products, cereal, juice, and hundreds of other food items.

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Chelation Therapy for Cardiovascular Disease

For decades, clinicians have used cholesterol-lowering statins, aspirin therapy, and a number of other pharmaceutical drugs in order to combat heart disease. Yet new research from Dr. Gervasio Lamas, chief cardiologist at the Columbia University Division of Cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, indicates that the alternative medicine technique of chelation therapy may be as effective in preventing the onset of cardiovascular disease. 

After almost two decades of studying the potential benefits of chelation therapy, Dr. Lamas’s preliminary findings indicate that it may be a significant ‘game changer’ in the treatment and prevention of heart disease: now the primary cause of death in the United States.

The National Institutes of Health recently authorized a $37 million grant for Lamas to conduct a follow-up study, in order to determine whether chelation is as beneficial as conventional therapies, or perhaps more so, in preventing heart attacks among people with diabetes. The five-year study, titled the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT2), will ultimately involve 1,200 participants and researchers at more than 100 leading medical institutions in the U.S. and Canada.

One-half of the participants will undergo chelation therapy, a process that removes lead, cadmium, and other toxins from the body–materials that may contribute to heart disease, just as “artery-clogging cholesterol can boost heart attack risk.” The other participants will receive an identical placebo, with the hopes of measuring the effect of chelation. All participants will receive high-doses or oral vitamins and minerals, or an oral placebo.

“I am very hopeful that we will be able to develop a new way of treating heart disease by removing some of the toxic substances that we take into our bodies inevitably during our lifetime,” says Lamas. “We live in an industrialized society, we can’t go back to living in caves and on farms. So we need to recognize [environmental toxins] as a risk factor for heart disease and treat [them] in the same way that we treat cholesterol…We think the bad actors are lead and cadmium, but we’re also looking at other toxins.”

Lamas himself acknowledges that he was initially skeptical about chelation’s benefits, believing that the alternative-medicine technique was fringe-medicine quackery. Lamas’s first study of chelation in 2002 was, in fact, initially designed to confirm his skepticism and suspicions. Instead, however, his own research demonstrated that chelation was enormously beneficial to heart patients–and rivaled the conventional techniques of statin and aspirin therapy. That NIH-sponsored study involved more than 1,700 heart attack survivors at 134 North American research sites, including Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic.

Over a seven-year period, participants were randomly assigned to receive 40 injections of a chelation solution–or “infusion”–or an inactive placebo. When the trial ended in 2012, the results indicated that those who received chelation in tandem with vitamin supplements had a 26 percent lower risk of heart complications (i.e. a second heart attack, stroke, or bypass surgery), compared with those given placebos. In diabetic patients, the findings were even more dramatic, with the combination therapy linked to a 49 percent lower risk of heart complications. Chelation was also found to cut the risk of death among diabetics by half over the course of the study.

“There is nothing like this for diabetes care,” says Lamas, whose findings were published in the American Heart Journal. “There just isn’t.” In follow-up meetings with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Lamas pressed for a follow-up study of chelation therapy, and was ultimately able to secure the $37 million grant. The new study, funded by the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, will examine the use of intravenous chelation treatments and oral vitamins in diabetic patients with a prior heart attack. If the findings prove the therapy is successful, chelation could become a front-line therapy for heart disease, says Lamas.

Chelation has long been approved by the FDA to rid the body of lead by using a synthetic amino acid (ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid), which binds to toxic metals and minerals in the bloodstream, allowing a patient to excrete them. Alternative practitioners have used chelation for almost six decades, with the belief that metal contamination causes or contributes to heart disease, and that chelation rids the body of deposits that can lead to atherosclerosis, which causes coronary arteries to narrow, leading to heart attacks.

Most conventional cardiologists have dismissed the therapy — just as Lamas once did. Yet the new TACT2 study could change that by providing a definitive answer on chelation and the role environmental contaminants play in the development of heart disease. “There hasn’t been a new mechanism [in treating heart disease] for a long time,” Lamas notes. “And that’s what’s gotten me so excited about this and why I’ve spent 20 years studying chelation.”

Dangers of Dieting

A new study presented to the American Heart Association on Tuesday communicated the real, imminent dangers of the fad ‘yo-yo dieting.’ The research conveyed the possibility of this type of dieting increasing the risk for coronary heart disease—which can lead to heart attacks and other serious health issues— and sudden cardiac death, in post-menopausal women.

On-and-off dieting has been a trend for 20% to 55% of the female U.S. population, a common issue that has received little attention in terms of its inherent risks. Dr. Michael Miller, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, stated: “You can look and appear healthy, but you don’t know what your risk factors are.”

The findings from a group of normal-weight women who ‘weight cycled’ indicated that they were 3 ½ times more likely to have sudden cardiac death than women with stable weights. Yo-yo dieting in normal-weight women was also associated with a 66% increased risk of coronary heart disease deaths. Weight cycling can additionally result in fluid shifts and electrolyte changes, which have the potential to cause deadly heart arrhythmias in susceptible middle-aged women.

Popular diet fads and trends advocate for losing weight quickly, primarily by severely reducing caloric intake. When this occurs, the dieter’s levels of magnesium, calcium, and electrolytes become depleted, which is dangerously hazardous to the body, and engenders adverse effects on health.

Losing weight in a drastic fashion is now not only considered unhealthy, but also scientifically proven to be possibly deadly. Restricting food should be replaced with the implementation of a healthy diet and increasing physical exercise.

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