Sixty eight million Americans suffer from some form of heart disease.
Over one million Americans have a heart attack each year.
And almost one million Americans die each year from cardiovascular related illnesses. This number accounts for forty one percent of all deaths in the United States each year.
Think we're doing better in Canada? Dream on,
Cardiovascular disease claims as many lives as the next 8 leading causes of death combined, including cancer, accidents and AIDS.
In fact, one person dies every 33 seconds from heart disease. This adds up to 2,600 deaths a day!
Heart disease is responsible for fifty percent of all deaths world wide!
The Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted an eleven-year study involving over 22,000 male physicians. The study showed that doctors who were bald on top of their heads (as opposed to frontal balding or loss of hair) were more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, especially when combined with other risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
At least 30 different studies have shown that a diagonal crease in the earlobe was a sign of increased risk for heart attack. The presence of a unilateral earlobe crease was associated with a 33% increase in the risk of heart attack and 77% if both earlobes were creased.
Chronic circulatory problems cause the blood vessels in the earlobe to collapse. This then creates a crease in the earlobe.
A diagonal earlobe crease is a better indicator of sudden death from heart attack then age, smoking, weight, high cholesterol, or sedentary lifestyle. For some reason a creased earlobe doesn’t increase the risk of heart attack in Asians and Native Americans.
Smoking increases the risk of dying from a heart attack by three-five times the normal. This is also true of chronic exposure to second hand smoke. One cigarette can increase the heart rate by 20-25 beats per minute. It takes 6 hours for the circulation to return to normal after one cigarette. Smoking increases fibrinogen.
One thousand people die every day from smoking cigarettes.
Increased levels of fibrinogen can cause blood clots.
There are 4000 poisons in tobacco. Some of these toxins deplete B6 levels. Vitamin B6 is essential in reducing homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine levels increase the risk of heart disease.
Smoking decreases longevity by an average of 7.5 years.
Over 50 million Americans suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure).Hypertension affects one out of every four adult Americans. Almost 43,000 Americans died from hypertension. Another 227, 000 died from causes related to hypertension.
Stage 1 hypertension occurs when the systolic pressure is
between 140-159 or diastolic pressure is between 90-99.
Stage II hypertension occurs when the systolic pressure is above 160 or if the diastolic pressure is above 100.
Individuals who are in stage I have a 31 percent greater risk of heart attack, almost twice the risk of stroke, and a 43 percent increase in death rate, compared to individuals with normal blood pressure.
Most health organizations and the public at large are sold on the idea that high levels of cholesterol are the main cause arteriosclerosis and heart disease. However, a growing body of research is dispelling this medical myth. The prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, reported in 1994 that most individuals with coronary artery disease have normal cholesterol levels! (2)
The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that there is no evidence linking high cholesterol levels in women with heart disease.(3)
The Body Needs Cholesterol
1. Cholesterol is so important that the body manufactures 800-1500 mg each day.
2. Cholesterol and other fats are the very building blocks that make up each and every cell.
3. Cholesterol is an important fat that helps keep cell membranes permeable. This permeability allows the good nutrients to get in and toxic waste products to get out of the cell.
4. Cholesterol makes the bile salts required for the digestion of fat.
5. Cholesterol is the precursor to vitamin D, which is necessary for numerous biochemical processes, including mineral metabolism.
6. Cholesterol is essential in maintaining proper hormone production. Testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), progesterone, estradiol, and cortisol are all made from cholesterol.
7. Over 8 percent of the brain’s solid matter is made up of cholesterol. Lipids (fat) make up 70 percent of the brain. This fat insulates brain cells and allows neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) to communicate with one another.
Cholesterol is essential for proper brain function and normalizing the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
• Several studies show that among older adults, those with lowered cholesterol are more likely to suffer from depression.4
• Those with low cholesterol are three times more likely to suffer from depression as normal adults.(5)
• The British Medical Journal published research showing that the lower the cholesterol, the more severe the depression.(6)
• Low cholesterol levels are also linked to an increased risk of committing suicide. One study, reported in the British Medical Journal, showed that of the 300 people who had committed suicide, all had low cholesterol levels.(7)
• Men whose cholesterol levels are lowered through the use of prescription lipid lowering medications double their chances of committing suicide.(8)
Low cholesterol has been linked to an increased risk for heart attack (below 180). Yes, you read this correctly.
Low cholesterol increases the risk of a heart attack.(9)
A follow-up study to the now infamous 1948 Framingham study shows that our rush to squelch total cholesterol levels may have been in error. In individuals who are over the age of 65, lowering cholesterol can increase the risk of mortality.
To cite the Framingham authors:
"For each 1 mg/dl drop of cholesterol there was an 11 percent increase in coronary and total mortality.10
It appears that total cholesterol isn’t a very reliable marker for predicting the risk of a heart attack in men above 65.
In the 30-year follow-up of the Framingham population, for instance, high cholesterol was not predictive at all after the age of 47, and those whose cholesterol went down, had the highest risk of having a heart attack! (11)
From The Lancet, a prestigious British Medical Journal, “Our data accord with previous findings of increased mortality in elderly people with low serum cholesterol, and show that long-term persistence of low cholesterol concentration actually increases the risk of death. Thus, the earlier that patients start to have lower cholesterol concentrations, the greater the risk of death.”(12)
The Journal of Cardiology had to say “low cholesterol increases the risk of a heart attack.”(13)
What about Dietary Fat and Heart Disease (see also by-line)
By 1998, there were a total of 30 different studies involving more than 150,000 people, which looked at the relationship of dietary fat and the risk of heart disease. These studies showed there was no difference in the risk of CAD in those who ate animal fats and those who did not.14
Interestingly, the fat intake for many countries has actually increased over the years. Meanwhile, incidence of heart disease in some of these countries has decreased. For example, take a look at Greece, the birthplace of the Mediterranean Diet. Comparing the amount of fat intake from the years 1961 through 1963 to that of 1983 through 1985 shows that the people of Greece increased their consumption of saturated fats by 65%,yet their incidence of heart disease only increased by 13%.
To quote Ancel Keys of the Mediterranean Diet fame, from a paper in 1956:
“In the adult man the serum cholesterol level is essentially independent of the cholesterol intake over the whole range of human diets.” Meaning, it didn’t matter what they ate; high cholesterol, low cholesterol, low-fat, or high-fat foods. 15
And more recently, Dr. Keys had this to say about the connection between cholesterol in the diet and cholesterol in the blood: “There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in blood. And we've known that all along.
Cholesterol in the diet doesn't matter at all unless you happen to be a chicken or a rabbit.”16
Various nutritional experts, including Sally Fallon, Mary G. Enig and Marion Dearth authors of “Nourishing Traditions The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats,” have voiced their opinions on the fact that saturated fats aren’t harmful to our health.
Research shows that there is no evidence that saturated fats are bad for health, and plenty of evidence that saturated fats prevent both CVD, and stroke.17
In fact, the fatty acids found in clogged arteries (arthromas) are mostly unsaturated (74%) of which 41% are polyunsaturated.18
Cholesterol is used by the body to repair and patch damaged cellular membranes. Scar tissue contains high levels of cholesterol. This is one of the reasons cholesterol is seen in arterial
plaques. When an arterial cell is damaged from free radicals, infection, or other inflammatory processes, cholesterol is dispatched to patch the diseased tissue.
Cholesterol is a potent antioxidant. Cholesterol actually protects cell membranes by acting as a free radical scavenger.19
Blood cholesterol levels increase in the presence of free radicals. Elevated cholesterol is more likely due to stress and free radical damage than to fat in one’s diet. Once cholesterol encounters free radicals, it may become oxidized. Oxidized cholesterol damages blood vessel walls. This sets up a chain reaction resulting in arteriosclerosis.20
However, antioxidant status is more predictive of increased risk of heart disease than cholesterol levels. Low blood levels of the antioxidant vitamin E is 100 times more significant as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease than cholesterol.21
Cholesterol is not the cause of arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis is a by-product of free radical damage, inflammation and the repair cycle.
1. Cardiovascular disease: comparisons. American Heart Association 1997 Statistics Fact Sheet.
2. The Lancet, 1994;344:1182-86.
3. Journal of The American Medical Association, 1995:274(14):1152-58.
4. Bruno Bertozzi, et al. Correspondance, British Medical Journal, 1996:312:1`289-99.
5. Bruno Bertozzi, et al. Correspondance, British Medical Journal, 1996:312:1`289-99.
6. Bruno Bertozzi, et al. Correspondance, British Medical Journal, 1996:312:1`289-99.
7. The British Medical Journal,1995 310:1632-36.
8. The British Medical Journal 1996: 313:649-64.
9. Lancet August 2001.
10. Krumholz HM, et al. Lack of association between cholesterol and coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity and all cause mortality in persons older than 70 years. Journal of the American Medical Association 272, 1335-1340, 1990.
11. Krumholz HM, et al. Lack of association between cholesterol and coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity and all cause mortality in persons older than 70 years. Journal of the American Medical Association 272, 1335-1340, 1990.
12. Krumholz HM, et al. Lack of association between cholesterol and coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity and all cause mortality in persons older than 70 years. Journal of the American Medical Association 272, 1335-1340, 1990.
13. Horwich TB, et al. Low Serum Total Cholesterol Is Associated With Marked Increase in Mortality In Advanced Heart Failure. J Cardiac Failure 2002;8(4):216-224.
14. Ravnskov U. The questionable role of saturated fat and polyunsaturated fatty acids in cardiovascular disease. Journal Of Clinical Epidemiology 51, 443-460, 1998.
15. Nichols AB, and others. Daily nutritional intake and serum lipid levels. The Tecumseh study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1976;29:1384-1392.
16. 1986 FAO Production Yearbook 40, 1987; and World Health Statistics Annual, 1993.
17. Ottoboni A and F, The Modern Nutritional Diseases, 2002, pp.36-7.
18. Lancet 1994 344:1195.
19. Pryor WA. Free radical reactions and their importance in biochemical systems. Fed Proc 1973;32:1862-1869.
20. Elmer M. Cranton, M.D. Bypassing Bypass Surgery, Medex Publishers, Yelm WA 2001. pg 270.
21. Gey KF, Puska P, Jordan P, et al. Inverse correlation between plasma vitamin E and mortality from ischemic heart disease in cross-cultural epidemiology. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;53:32S-334S.
About Dr. Murphree
Dr. Murphree is a board certified nutritional specialist and chiropractic physician who has been in private practice since 1990. He is the founder and past clinic director for a large integrated medical practice located on the campus of Brookwood Hospital in Birmingham Alabama. The clinic was staffed with medical doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nutritionists, and massage therapists. The clinic combined prescription and natural medicines for acute and chronic illnesses. He is the author of 5 books for doctors and patients including, "Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome," "The Patient's Self-Help Manual for Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome," "Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue The Manual for Non-Allopathic Doctors," “Heart Disease What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You," and "Treating and Beating Anxiety and Depression with Orthomolecular Medicine."