Your Heart on Drugs

Health Alert 56

My brother, DS, had dinner with a prominent cardiologist last week. This cardiologist told him that cardiac drugs are so great that “just about everyone should probably be taking one or another”

He told DS that he should take a cholesterol lowering drug because his LDL is 72 and it should be below 70. He said forget about diet and exercise. “It’s all caused by genetics and the only solutions that really work are drugs.” DS’s question wasn’t about whether he should actually do this. His question was “Do all cardiologists think like that?”

Unfortunately, I do find this point of view disturbingly common among cardiologist. I have a deep disagreement with this field of medicine. If you have an emergency, you need this technology. If you have a long-term problem like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you should look for a more natural solution.

Cardiac drugs are dispensed like M&M’s, and it’s getting worse. Chances are you or someone close to you takes heart medication on a regular basis. I have problems with each category.

Beta and alpha blockers, anticoagulants, and nitrates all have serious health risks. Beta blockers lower blood pressure by blocking natural hormones that normally cause the heart to beat faster and harder. This blockage prevents normal regulation of heart rate. Besides dangerous side effects, these blockers cause a progressive deconditioning of the heart. Activities that normally strengthen the heart like exercise are no longer effective.

Anticoagulants prevent blood clots. You may more commonly know anticoagulants as “blood thinners”. They are most dangerous because of the risk of uncontrollable bleeding.

Nitrates open up blood vessels to allow blood to flow through. But after 100 years of using nitrates, we can’t prove you live any longer if you take them than if you do nothing at all. Nitrates are also dangerous drugs that can make activity and exercise very difficult.

But these harsh medications are not your only choice for heart problems. A number of natural remedies have proven records without dangerous side effects.

CoQ10 is the first nutrient that I prescribe to my patients with heart trouble. It is the single most important heart nutrient that you can take. CoQ10 helps most cardiac problems especially high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.

The journal, Molecular Aspects of Medicine, published an 8-year study on the effects of CoQ10 on overall heart health. Over 400 patients participated in the CoQ10 therapy. Approximately 87% of the patients had significant improvement for their various cardiac problems. Most patients were able to stop taking prescription drugs.1

I use 100mg of CoQ10 every day.

Garlic has shown to lower cholesterol, inhibit clots, thin blood, and dilates blood vessels. Garlic affects the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, inhibiting high blood pressure. Garlic also increases the activity of nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels.

A Russian research team conducted a new double-blinded study to investigate the effectiveness of garlic. Garlic significantly reduced diastolic blood pressure as compared to a placebo.2

Raw garlic is best. Chew 1 to3 cloves everyday. Drink mint tea or chew some mint to cover the smell.

Ginger is a remarkable as a clot inhibitor and blood thinner. Ginger also reduces cholesterol levels and oxidation of cholesterol. The Journal of Nutrition published a study which proved that ginger lowers cholesterol.

Mice were with high cholesterol took ginger extract for 10 weeks. The mice that took the ginger had significantly lower cholesterol. Researchers were also surprised to find that the ginger reduced the appearance cardiac lesions.3

I use 300 mg of ginger twice a day.

Talk with you doctor if you are concerned about your heart medications. With the help of your doctor, you can try safer alternatives. In the next Health Alert, I will outline more of my favorite heart nutrients.

Al Sears, MD

1 Langsjoen H., et al. Usefulness of Coenzyme Q10 in clinical cardiology: a long-term study. Mol Aspect Med 1004; 15 Suppl: s165-75

2 Andrianova I., et al. Hypotensive effect of long-acting garlic tablets allicor (a double-blind placebo-controlled trial).Ter Arkh 2002; 74(3): 76-78

3 Furman B., et al. Ginger extract consumption reduces plasma cholesterol, inhibits LDL oxidation and attenuates development of atherosclerosis in atherosclerotic mice. J Nutr 200; 130: 1124-1131