National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

At A4M/MMI, our mission is to spread awareness surrounding the need for research, funding, and further education in order to prevent age-related diseases. This will not be the last you hear from us concerning Alzheimer’s disease, as it is a topic that both deserves and requires a significant amount of attention.

The month of November has been officially designated as Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, a disease that currently affects more than five million Americans: a number that could potentially skyrocket to 16 million in the next three decades. Not only is Alzheimer’s the sixth-leading cause of death in the country, but the disease also leads to tremendous financial and emotional instabilities, in addition to extensive family strain and stress.

The cognitive losses that accompany Alzheimer’s disease are, at first blush, signs of normal aging: forgetfulness, disorientation, and impairments in functioning that lead to one’s inability to perform basic, rudimentary tasks. Yet these symptoms are merely the tip of the iceberg: depression, anxiety, aggression, and a detachment from reality are some of the emotional and behavioral difficulties caused by Alzheimer’s.

While pharmaceutical medications can alleviate some of the more crippling symptoms of Alzheimer’s, controllable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease remain unknown; thus, it is not yet possible to reduce chances of developing the disease. While the past two decades have seen significant advances in our understanding of the disease, there is still no cure, nor any way to slow the disease’s progression, or reverse the deterioration.

Current mainstream medical therapy aims to preserve diminishing brain function, yet several drugs are currently being studied through clinical trials, with the hopes of improving memory or slowing the disease’s progression. Continued and increased funding in research is critical, as most scientists and clinicians believe that early detection is the primary way in which to stop the disease’s progression—or even ultimately cure it.

To become further involved with research, funding, or learn more about ways to prevent aging-related diseases, take a look at what being an A4M member means.  Enhancing health is always our top priority, and we believe if you are reading this, it is yours too.

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.”

Physician of the Month: Gregory Seaman, MD

A4M valued member Gregory Seaman, MD shares insight from his professional experience in this Physician of the Month feature.

Q: Before joining A4M, what was your medical background?

Prior to joining A4M and opening thriveMD, I spent 7 years practicing as an anesthesiologist in the Chicago area. While I enjoyed the pharmacology and pharmacodynamics of anesthesia I didn’t feel very connected to the patients I worked with. I was certainly providing a service to them but I always felt medicine could be more. I started questioning why people needed all of these surgeries. Why do we wait until things go wrong and then take these drastic steps to correct them??

Q: What anti-aging techniques have you incorporated into your practice? And how did you do so?

When I started thriveMD we were focused on 4 main treatment modalities. We focused on bio-identical hormone replacement, medical weight loss, IV therapies and platelet rich plasma therapy. I believed these represented some of the “pillars” of anti-aging medicine. We have since expanded into many additional therapies. We now offer oxidative therapies, adipocyte as well as umbilical cord stem cell therapies, ultra-violet light therapies and will be starting with the HOCATT™ Platinum sauna very shortly. The HOCATT™ is a revolutionary invention by a man from South Africa, which incorporates an ozone sauna, carbonic acid, whole body hyperthermia, exercise with oxygen therapy as well as pulsed electro-magnetic field therapy and more all into one 30-minute session.

We started with the four pillars (as I saw them) and have let the people we work with dictate the direction we have headed. We are always searching for the latest advances and have been blessed to work with many other providers who are also striving for optimal health for their clients.

Q: What are the benefits of practicing anti-aging medicine (as a professional and for your practice)?

There are many benefits to practicing anti-aging medicine. The medicine I practice now is really the reason I wanted to be a physician in the first place. I spend more time with the people I work with and I really get to know them. There are a lot of things that make up a patient that traditional medicine either does not value or simply cannot fit into the current model. Each person that comes into my office is completely unique. Each persons’ family or financial stressors, relationship or work issues, the environmental hazards they are exposed to and these things combined bring a completely unique individual. In addition, so many people deal with GI issues, absorption problems, poor nutrition and high stress. These issues are critically important to the health and well-being of the person in front of me, and yet most of this information can be deemed from a lab test.

Q: What are the changes you see in your patients?

The most rewarding change I have seen in the people I work with is a feeling of some control over their health and their life. Many people just thought they were getting older and had to accept the deterioration in their health. When you work with them preventatively to optimize their health and they feel better, it gives them a whole new view of health. They feel empowered! That then has them wondering “what else can I do” and “how good can I feel at 40, 50 or even 70”?

I have been blessed to work with hard working, dedicated patients. These people are willing to do what it takes to be healthy but just never had the tools. Many people today are not going to the doctor just to get another prescription to deal with some symptom they are now faced with. They realize that this body is the one vessel they will go through life with and they are willing to do whatever it takes to take care of it.

Q: Why would you recommend anti-aging medicine to your peers?

I would recommend anti-aging to my peers because I believe it is why most (if not all) of them went into the field of medicine. To work closely with patients, get to know them and be able to really help them. Help them to not just avoid getting sick but to feel better at any age! We always tell patients at thriveMD that their body is like a Ferrari that they have spent years putting dirty gasoline in and never changing the oil. They really have no idea how their body is capable of functioning and how well it will function with a little help. With anti-aging medicine doctors are able to give these people this help. It is extremely rewarding.

Q: Where do you see the future of anti-aging medicine 20 years from now?

I think the future of anti-aging medicine is extremely bright. I think the more aware people are of the possibilities the more interest there will be and this will, in turn, lead to more possibilities. Traditionally medicine has been reactive in this country. People are now starting to approach medicine proactively and this is fueling the anti-aging boom. I do not see this slowing anytime soon. I hope in 20 years that anti-aging services and preventive medicine are mainstream and considered standard of care. As our country continues to age there will be a greater and greater demand to feel better longer. I envision anti-aging medicine rising to meet this demand.