The Clinical Corner
Cardiovascular Health, part 5
The nutritional component of cardiovascular health is truly foundational. A lack of key nutrients and minerals is found at the crux of heart disease. Therefore, we’re looking at the proverbial “chicken or the egg”. Which comes first? Is it a disease state, like cardiovascular disease, which causes the body to suffer a decline in
Robert J. Lukasik , DCN
key, essential nutrients or is it the lack of these essential co-factors that leads the body into the
disease? This is why I believe in a balanced, healthy approach to diet, exercise and nutritional
U.S. government surveys have shown that as many as 80% of Americans don’t receive the RDA of magnesium in their daily diet. Again, it’s important to stress that these surveys (NHANES I and II) found that we lack basic levels of magnesium and that we are far from achieving therapeutic levels.
From my experience and that of others in this field it becomes rapidly apparent that magnesium is the leader in the race for heart health. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant and the natural equivalent to our artificial calcium channel blockers that our doc-tors prescribe. Magnesium deficiency is directly associated with an increase in the incidence of hypertension, strokes, atherosclero- sis and heart attacks. Dr. Ross Pelton tells us that magnesium acts like a whole pharmacopiae by itself. “.magnesium inhibits platelet aggregation (like aspirin), thins the blood (like Coumadin), blocks calcium uptake (like Procardia) and relaxes blood vessels (like ACE inhibitors such as Vasotec).
Insufficient levels of magnesium can cause vasculature stiffness. This, in turn, will elevate blood pressure which can cause a contraction or spasm in the heart muscle. This can result in sudden death. In 1992 M.J. Eisenburg wrote in the American
Heart Journal that it is a magnesium deficiency that causes a cardiac spasm that results in death. From this and other re-
search we now know that many heart attacks occur in people who have relatively healthy hearts.
A.R. Gaby, in the Journal of Advancement of Medicine, tells us that magnesium increases heart muscle oxygenation thereby improving cardiac contractibility. As early as 1990 we learned from M. Schechter, et al, in the American Journal of Cardi-ology, that magnesium administration resulted in a 71% reduction in deaths during the critical initial four weeks after a heart at-tack. In this study intravenous magnesium was administered to patients during the early stages of heart attack.
Magnesium has a real impact on cholesterol levels as well. 400mg per day was given to patients with elevated cholesterol and low HDL. In just four months the average cholesterol level went from 297 to 257mg/dl – a 40-point reduction! Further, their average HDL levels increased by a dramatic 33%. An interesting study published in 1984 demonstrated that hypertensive patients have lower levels of magnesium in their blood than do persons with normal blood pressure. It continued to point out that those with the highest blood pressures also had the lowest magnesium levels.
We, previously in this series of articles, covered the importance of the right fats and oils versus the wrong ones. It ap- pears that we, as a nation, finally understand that partial hydrogenation alters the structure of fats. This change in structure leads to trans fatty acids which have been shown to be directly associated with cardiovascular disease.
Trans fats and partially hydrogenated fats must be removed from our diet!
A 1993 study showed that those who consumed 5-6 grams of trans fatty acids were 50% more likely to develop heart disease than those who ate 2-3 grams of these same fats. What if these fats were totally eliminated from the diet? This is what we must work towards.
Oxidized fats and oils increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. This leaves us two choices. We must consume high levels of antioxidant nutrients as we’ve discussed before or we must choose our fats and oils wisely. Olive oil appears to be the healthiest dietary oil to use on a daily basis. When we look at the much-studied Mediterranean diet we find that they consume as much as 30-40% of their calories from fat. Heart disease among this population is 90% lower than what we experience in the United States. They are consuming a diet that has 40% fat yet the fat is predominantly from monounsaturated olive oil. Our over-consumption of polyunsaturated vegetable oils has contributed to elevated triglycerides and increased blood pressure. This occurs because these oils (which are fundamentally omega-6) foster an imbalance in our ratio of omega -3 to omega –6. This imbalance leads to a deficiency in Omega 3 fatty acids. This leads to chronic inflammation. When you stop and think about it, historically, our cattle and livestock grazed on the plains and consumed a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids from the grains they consumed. Today they are often corn fed – a source of omega-6 fatty acids. Unfortunately the same is begin- ning to hold true for much of our farm-raised salmon. We are feeding them a diet rich in omega-6. This imbalance is also respon-sible for increased platelet stickiness which increases the likelihood of blood clots. The simplest remedy for this is to consume a tablespoon of high quality fish oil or flax seed oil daily or its equivalent in capsules.
We recently spent time covering Vitamin E’s role as an antioxidant. I’d like to point out one study in particular - the CHAOS study. In this examination, patients with coronary atherosclerosis were randomly given a placebo or 400 i.u. or 800 i.u. of Vitamin E daily. Over time it was shown that those on the Vitamin E regimen had a 47% reduction in secondary or follow-up heart at-tacks. Vitamin E can reduce platelet adhesion and, very importantly, prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
Bob has been in the natural products industry as a practitioner, counselor, lecturer and business owner/manager for over 20 years. Copyright 2005


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