Alternatives & Traditional

Posts tagged ‘heart attack’

Understanding Heart Arrhythmias and Treating Arrhythmias Naturally

Heart arrhythmias occur from what are known as ectopic pacemakers. These are heart cells that try to act as nodes that fire off electrical impulses to control heart contractions.

A very basic description of how things normally work is that the sinoatrial (SA) node fires off an electrical charge that leads to contraction of the atria. This is the first sound you hear in the heartbeat. Then the electrical charge travels to the atrioventricular (AV) node causing the ventricles to contract giving the second sound in the heartbeat. Thus we hear a lub, lub…….lub, lub…….. lub, lub in a normal heartbeat.

When there is a decrease of blood flow or oxygen to the heart muscle cardiac irritability develops and individual cells in the heart try acting as nodes themselves. So the SA and AV nodes still fire off, but additional cells trying to act as nodes also fire off throwing the heart rhythm off. So instead of lub, lub…….lub, lub…….. lub, lub you may get something like lub, lub, lub…….lub, lub, lub…….. lub, lub,lub…..

In severe cases there can be multiple cells in a portion of the heart all trying to act as nodes causing spasms of the heart muscle.  This condition is referred to as fibrillation.

Decreased blood flow is the most common reason for arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm) such as palpitations or fibrillation.  The decrease in blood flow can occur from excessive calcium contracting the blood vessels, arterial plaque, thrombus or embolus, excess epinephrine (adrenaline) release from high emotional stress or allergic reactions, elevated insulin levels in diabetes or severe drops in blood pressure.  The decreased blood flow to the heart decreases oxygen levels to the heart leading the heart to work harder to increase blood flow to itself.  This can exacerbate the condition though if the body does not find a way to increase blood flow such as through the release of prostaglandins or nitric oxide.

As a side note here it is often recommended people take aspirin to prevent a heart attack and even worse to take an aspirin during a heart attack.  Aspirin, or other NSAID therapies can actually contribute to arrhythmias and promote heart attacks:

Damage (scar tissue) in the heart muscle is a less common reason for arrhythmias.

Natural methods of dealing with heart arrhythmias include:

*Magnesium- Magnesium works like a natural calcium channel blocker (CCB).  Calcium causes muscles, such as blood vessels, to contract.  Contraction of the blood vessels leads to an elevation of blood pressure and decreased blood flow, which dilates blood vessels increasing blood flow to the heart.  CCBs are used to lower blood pressure by preventing calcium from entering the muscles of blood vessels causing the blood vessels to relax.  Magnesium works because it is a calcium antagonist.  Magnesium forces calcium out of the blood vessels causing them to relax.

Magnesium also displaces calcium from calcified arterial plaque making it easier for the body to remove the plaque.  This further improves blood flow to the heart over time.

Acidified forms of magnesium are the best absorbed and most effective. These include magnesium malate and magnesium citrate.  I also prefer malate or citrate because the acids used to form these salts, malic acid and citric acid, like magnesium raise adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels.  ATP is the fuel for cells that not only allows them to function, but to function properly.  For example, many people take CoQ10 to promote proper heart function.  As with magnesium, malic acid and citric acid, CoQ10 elevates ATP levels to the heart muscle.

Magnesium oxide should be avoided.  Magnesium oxide in contact with water forms the caustic magnesium hydroxide.  Magnesium hydroxide is poorly absorbed and it neutralizes stomach acid leading to a whole host of problems.  The hydroxide though also burns the intestinal wall leading to an influx of water and increased peristalsis.  This is why magnesium hydroxide is sold as a laxative under names such as Milk of Magnesia.

*Cactus grandiflorus (night blooming cereus)-Cactus grandiflorus is a very weak cardiac glycoside source. Cardiac glycosides slow the heart rate, increase contractile force and dilate blood vessels. Therefore cardiac glycosides are used to improve heart function, especially in cases of congestive heart failure, and to lower blood pressure.

*Lily of the valley. This is a slightly stronger cardiac glycoside source.

*Coleus forskohlii (aka forskohlii).  Coleus forskohlii is also a weak source of cardiac glycosides.  Forskohlii also elevates levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which is an extremely important chemical messenger for the body.  Among its many effects, cAMP acts as an antihistamine, which reduces the release of blood vessel constricting epinephrine during exposure to allergens.

Combining nettle leaf with forskohlii will prolong the effects of the forskohlii.


Why Statins and Low Cholesterol Cause Heart Attacks and Strokes

No studies have ever proven that high cholesterol causes heart disease since this simply is not true.  Inflammation, not high cholesterol leads to atherosclerosis.  Yet the pharmaceutical companies keep pushing the cholesterol myth to promote drug sales while ignoring the fact that they are endangering lives.

Statins are the most commonly prescribed form of medicine for the treatment of “high” cholesterol.  The drug companies have failed though to inform the public about the dangers of not only these drugs, but also of the dangers of low cholesterol, which among other things can cause heart attack and stroke.

I find it rather ironic that the drug companies are pushing statins claiming they help prevent heart disease when these drugs are well known to increase the risk of heart failure, heart attacks and strokes!  There are several reasons for this.

Other than liver damage, the best known side effect of statins is a condition known as rhabdomyolosis.  This is a condition in which muscle tissue deteriorates.  The deterioration occurs from declining levels of CoQ10 in the tissues, which is required for the proper function of cells and their energy production through the formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).  What people often do not stop and think about is that the heart is also a muscle and is prone to the same damaging effects from the use of statins.  If taking statins I highly recommend taking at least 200mg of CoQ10 daily to help reduce the risk of statin induced heart failure.

The increased risk of heart attack and stroke actually occur for a totally different reason.  If you read my blog articles on the dangers of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) you will see that the risk of heart attack and stroke are related.  Several NSAIDs, such as Vioxx and Celebrex have been either pulled off the market or have required stronger warning labels warning of the increased risk of heart attack and stroke from these drugs.  Even though the drug companies tried to make it sound like a new discovery, the risk had been known prior to the drugs ever reaching the market.  The problem stems from the way these drugs work.  NSAIDs interfere with inflammatory prostaglandins.  Inflammatory prostaglandins are hormones that dilate blood vessels.  For example during injuries these hormones open up blood vessels to increase oxygen and nutrient levels to the area to promote healing.  By inhibiting these hormones NSAIDs decrease blood flow to the organs including the heart and brain.  If the blood supply is sufficiently reduced to the heart and brain, heart attack or stroke can occur.

So what does all this have to do with statins and cholesterol levels?  Prostaglandins, as with other hormones, are formed from cholesterol.  Therefore, reduced cholesterol levels lead to decreased prostaglandin formation, which in turn decreases blood flow to the organs.  This explains why studies have consistently shown increased mortality with decreased cholesterol levels.

PolyHeme Part 2

In August of 2006 Northfield Laboratories tried to get accelerated approval for PolyHeme.  The request was declined by the FDA until further study results come in.  I guess they were in a rush since they signed a $6.7 million agreement on June 16th, 2006 to purchase a 106,000 square foot property that they intend to use to manufacture their product.  This is really putting the cart before the horse since they don’t have approval for their blood substitute, nor is there any guarantee of approval.

This brings up the question of how far will Northfield Laboratories go to get their blood substitute approved to avoid losing their investment and the money of their investors?  After all this has been a costly venture.  Not only have they spent $6.7 million for the building they intend to manufacture their product in but they are also paying the hospitals $10,000 for each patient they test the blood substitute on.  Tack on to that other research and development costs, manufacturing equipment costs and other expenses.

Pursuant to CFR 50.24 certain criteria must be met in order for testing to be performed on patients without their consent.  For example, section (2) (ii) states “Appropriate animal and other preclinical studies have been conducted, and the information derived from those studies and related evidence support the potential for the intervention to provide a direct benefit to the individual subjects”.  So where are these previous animal or preclinical studies?  The only study was halted early after a significant increase in deaths in patients receiving PolyHeme.  Section (2) (iii) states “Risks associated with the investigation are reasonable in relation to what is known about the medical condition of the potential class of subjects, the risks and benefits of standard therapy, if any, and what is known about the risks and benefits of the proposed intervention or activity.”  Again, the only clinical study was halted early because of a disproportionate death rate between those receiving PolyHeme and those that did not.  This is hardly reasonable when standard therapy has been shown to be considerably safer and effective.

The regulation also requires that they try to gain consent prior to, or as soon as possible from a legal representative such as a relative.  From what I have seen I don’t think this is being done.  For instance, if a married couple is in an accident, and only one has sufficient trauma to require blood are they obtaining consent from the spouse?  It does not appear that they are.  Instead, saline or PolyHeme were not chosen for the patient until the patient was on the way to the hospital.  And according to news reports, the decision was based on sealed envelopes the paramedics opened in route to determine what treatment the patient would be given.  Such a practice would prohibit the paramedics from explaining the risks and benefits to the spouse to allow them to make an informed decision or give time to obtain consent even if the spouse was aware of the risks.  If no legal representative can be found then the company must provide proof of attempts to contact a legal representative.

Section (7) (ii) states “ Public disclosure to the communities in which the clinical investigation will be conducted and from which the subjects will be drawn, prior to initiation of the clinical investigation, of plans for the investigation and its risks and expected benefits”.

The first problem with this is that Northfield Laboratories did not disclose the adverse effects of their product found in the 1998 study.  In fact, they threatened to sue the group that made the fact public claiming that the adverse effects that included death were part of their trade secret.  I also see a problem with this regulation by the fact that everyone will not be aware of the study since not everyone follows or has access to the media.  For example, the homeless would not likely know about the study and therefore there will be no disclosure as is required to certain groups.  Despite this people in these groups may be subjected to the study.  The law does allow life saving measures in people unable to give consent such as unconscious patients.  This is called implied consent.  For instance, if a person tries to overdose on drugs to commit suicide and they refuse treatment the paramedics cannot touch the patient.  Once the patient passes out they can claim implied consent and start treatment.  The basis is that the person if they were conscious and able to give consent would likely give consent to save their life.  Does this apply to unapproved and untested drugs like PolyHeme though?  I doubt if such an argument would hold up.  A person would probably give consent if they knew or had reason to believe that the drug or treatment had been thoroughly tested and was an approved treatment.  A reasonable person is not likely going to consent to an unproven and potentially dangerous unapproved drug or treatment.  Especially when safer and proven therapies exist.  Northfield Laboratories claims to have followed CFR 50.24 explicitly.  I disagree based on the facts that they never completed previous trials, their product has a higher death rate than controls and those receiving blood, they have not informed the public of their testing, or the possible dangers of the therapy and I don’t see any evidence that they are really trying to obtain consent as is required by law.

Patients were allowed to opt out of the test in case they suffered a severe trauma that would leave them unable to give consent.  To do so though they had to obtain a blue plastic bracelet from the company that they had to be wearing at the time paramedics arrived.  In order to get the bracelet the person would first have to be aware of the test.  Many people were not aware that the test was going on until testing had almost been completed.  And as previously pointed out, people that did not follow the media or who had no access to the media would have still been uninformed about the testing.  The same could apply to those who do not speak English.  Even if the story came on the TV news it does not mean they would understand what the test was about or how to opt out.

So what are the potential side effects of PolyHeme?  Previous hemoglobin products have all been shown to cause kidney damage, liver damage, high blood pressure and inflammation of the arteries.  There is also concern that allergic reactions may occur.  Northfield Laboratories claims that these adverse effects are not possible and their product is safe.  Other researchers disagree.  And Northfield Laboratories has not had the greatest track record of being honest to the public about the safety record of their product.  For instance when they tried to suppress the fact that 10 patients died within one week of receiving their product and no patients receiving real blood died.  Or the fact that their study was halted early due to problems.  Would more deaths have occurred if the study had continued its full duration?  Other adverse affects reported by the use of PolyHeme were significant increases in the rate of heart attacks, arrhythmias and pneumonia.

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