Affairs of the HeartHelke Ferrie September 1, 2006
The Real Truth About Our Epidemic of Cardiovascular Disease: What’s Causing It, and Why We’re Not Getting Better
The heart is not merely a sophisticated pump. In an Egyptian text from three thousand years ago, The Instructions of Amenemope, the heart is described as the source of thought and the seat of the “Universal Lord, the pilot of the ship of human life.” The very word “heart” meant “intelligence” as well as “mind” and the Egyptians believed that one’s conscience arose from the heart which the Book of the Dead states is a person’s “own god”. All of these metaphors are now supported by medical science.
Consider the case of an eight-year old girl who had received the heart of a 10-year old murdered girl. The recipient, who did not know what had happened to the donor, subsequently suffered from unbearable nightmares about a murder. She was able to describe it with such accuracy that the murderer was found and convicted on the basis of the details these nightmares revealed. Following 12 years of research into the lives of heart transplant recipients in North America, Europe, and Australia, two researchers from the Universities of Arizona and Hawaii published their results in various journals and subsequently in a book The Heart’s Code. This ongoing research seeks an explanation for the well-documented fact that the heart has imprinted into its cellular memory highly specific personality traits which then become part of the transplant recipient’s personality, often for life.
Research has also validated the popular belief that bad news about a loved one can cause a heart attack. Harvard research proved in the early 90s that such cardiac events “skyrocket” following distressing news and suggested that the sudden increase of stress hormones, such as cortisol, might cause pre-existing atherosclerotic plaques to be removed from the interior walls of arteries, causing such events.
Duke University researchers published findings in the May 28, 1997 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association showing that even “moderate to strong feelings of sadness, tension, and frustration can more than double the risk of having a heart attack within the next hour.”
The opposite was true of people who felt content. In the January 2001 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine we learn that having a bad marriage can bring on chronic high blood pressure and heart attacks just as surely as smoking, and that resolving such tensions (by switching to a supportive, loving partner or successful counseling) could heal the heart. In 2005, the US National Academy of Science research showed that happy people had lower concentrations of the blood chemical fibrinogen whose presence signals inflammation, a precipitator of heart attack, stroke and cancer.
These findings have made stress reduction techniques, nutrition, transplant counselling, meditation, prayer, and psychotherapy central components of cardiovascular therapies. In this area of medicine, the heart brought about something of a truce between standard medicine (focused on surgery and drugs) and alternative medicine which proved that the soul, food, and human relationships, are undeniably important in the causation as well as for the cure of cardiovascular disease.
In fact, the 1999 Canadian Medical Association’s guidelines for the treatment of hypertension and heart disease were revised dramatically in 2004 to include recommendations on essential fatty acids, antioxidants and dietary and lifestyle changes. Even more significant is the Canadian Medical Association’s assertion, as reported late in July on CBC radio, that climate change is not only worsening, but causing heart disease due to the increase of airborne toxic particulates when temperatures rise above 20 degrees Celsius. The heart literally cannot stand what we do to ourselves and our planet.
Heart disease in Canada has increased by 31% since the mid-90s and strokes now include even children as young as four years (Toronto Star, August 9, 2001). This is lucrative for Big Pharma: $3.3 billion was spent by the public in 2002 for cardiovascular drugs alone. Yet these are among the most notorious for side effects and industry fraud. The New England Journal of Medicine published research on June 8 this year showing that the ACE inhibitor drugs cause serious birth defects. And a large multi-center study of all cardiovascular disease drugs, ALLHAT, which involved 42,000 patients, showed that none of those high-tech, expensive drugs were any better than old-fashioned, non-patented, low-dose diuretics. (Medical Post, December 31, 2002).
Beta blockers are known to increase death from heart attacks, as well as cause impotence, depression, weight gain, and diabetes. Traditional pharmacists have now taken it upon themselves to inform the public of the dangers of prescription drugs by providing mainstream evidence of the especially disastrous nutritional deficiencies these drugs cause (Pelton & LaValle).
As for bypass surgery, it is now known to greatly increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, because of the need for reduced blood flow to the brain during surgery which appears to have a lasting damaging effect (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, August, 2005).
And mainstream research has relegated the most sacred of cows in cardiovascular medicine cholesterol to the status of myth; see the two excellent books by Ellison and Ravnskov. Cardiovascular disease can show up as heart valve damage (at birth or acquired), varicose veins, toxemia during pregnancy, heart valve damage, coronary artery disease, angina, stroke, diabetic neuropathy, or high blood pressure. While some heart conditions can be fixed through surgery, all forms of heart disease affect all of the body and soul.
Standard medicine treats each of these variations, which are in fact symptoms, as if they were individual diseases, ignoring the fact that they are alarm signals indicating a Whole Body Problem. The symptom is then treated as if it were a malfunction in the cranky machinery of the body. In fact, all disease is caused by an environment turned toxic from bacteria to man-made toxins poisons and nutrient-depleted corporate phantom food, processed and packaged such as to be fit for nothing living. Most recently, CBC radio reported that a pure vegan diet cures diabetes Type I. This research was undertaken by the University of Toronto and the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (don’t you just love that name!) and is reported in the August edition of Journal of the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes has some of the worst cardiovascular complications known.
Of course, the nutritional approach, as effective as it has been shown to be in the medical literature (even though most doctors don’t seem to know that, because the drug reps are unlikely to tell them about cutting-edge medical research), is not dramatic, heroic or sexy; surgery and the latest wonder drug engage the imagination of doctors and patients as easily as a Hollywood thriller.
THE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE HOAX
Usually, though, heart disease is treated as a “drug deficiency” says environmental medicine expert, Dr. Sherry Rogers. She has published an important new book, The High Blood Pressure Hoax. In my opinion, this is the best of her many excellent books. Dr. Martha Stark of Harvard Medical School observes in her introduction: “Dr. Rogers details how western medicine and the pharmaceutical industry actually make the sick get sicker quicker. She presents rather impressive and compelling arguments in favour of detective work that empowers the reader to uncover the real causes of symptoms and reverse them without drugs. She brings a whole new level of sophistication and understanding to the enormously important and complex field of heart disease.”
In her trademark style, which tolerates no deceit from standard medical guidelines, drug company propaganda, and the criminal negligence of the food industry, Dr. Rogers has put together a research treasure and an invaluable teaching manual for those suffering from, or wishing to prevent, heart disease in all its forms, even those rare types that are inherited.
Appended to each chapter is the technical literature, so patients can show this to their scientifically-challenged and drug-industry-brainwashed doctors. For the fact is, voluminous research exists showing how all diseases are caused by toxic food, toxic environments and often toxic medicines, and they are prevented and cured by eliminating what’s toxic and providing what’s nourishing. Dr. Rogers insists that patients need to understand their illness and demand that their doctors become up-to-date on the existing science.
Every chapter teaches what medical tests to ask for (available in standard laboratories), and about the relevant supplements, their trustworthy sources, and detoxification methods. The requisite environmental control measures are carefully explained, as is nutrition and why and how these work.
Her style is folksy, often funny, peppered with delightful puns, and full of examples from her almost four decade long clinical experience. The book is not only a gold mine of accurate information, but also a thriller. Dr. Rogers includes terrific skullduggery stories from the medical literature, the courts, and investigative journalism on the crimes of standard medicine, the food industry, and Big Pharma which expose us to known poisons, toxic therapies, and nutritional catastrophes in the interest of corporate profit.
Knowing about these crimes means being able to avoid this garbage in the pharmacy and supermarket. You should read this book, even if your ticker is in optimal shape: you will be inspired, helpfully disillusioned, and empowered with verifiable information for sick friends and relatives.
THE TRUE CAUSES OF HEART ATTACK AND STROKE
Dr. Rogers provides the reader with two golden keys to medicine the first allows us to unlock the facts of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and all other diseases for that matter. Dr. Rogers writes that “every single cell of your body depends on the health of your blood vessels that supply them.”
The health of the cell, and that cell’s ability to repair itself, depend on the availability of specific nutrients, chief among them being vitamins and minerals, some of which will be more important than others, depending on the disease and its characteristic pattern of damage.
The second key unlocks the treasure chest of healing. Dr. Rogers writes: “For every ailment, even one as simple as high blood pressure, there are multiple causes and multiple cures” and none of those include synthetic drugs which, at best, temporarily control symptoms. High blood pressure is caused by damaged blood vessels whose millions of cells become unable to repair themselves when external toxins and the starvation caused by phantom foods overwhelm them, “…since blood vessels supply oxygen and nutrition to every organ of the body, any damage to your vessels eventually leads to damage of any organ.”
It follows that consuming real food which actually contains the essentials for life (fatty acids, minerals, vitamins), and stopping the influx of environmental toxins (from cosmetics to pesticides) will enable cells to resume repair of the highway system of the body. The food connection is increasingly becoming mainstream medicine; Toronto cardiologist, Dr. David Alter, showed that postal code areas with the highest number of fast food restaurants have the highest rate of fatal and non-fatal heart attacks (Canadian Journal of Public Health, May 12, 2005).
In cases of high blood pressure, potassium and magnesium are of central importance. The Standard American Diet (SAD) causes potassium starvation through carbonated drinks and insufficient fresh vegetables and fruit. SAD is so deficient in magnesium, according to US government agricultural research, that most North Americans only get 40% of the standard daily amount required for basic health. A recent study showed that 56% of hospitalized stroke patients were severely malnourished (Medical Post, Sept. 26, 2000), and Harvard Medical School published research showing that a high potassium diet (i.e. vegetables and fruit) lowers the risk of stroke (Focus, Oct. 2, 1998). It gets particularly frightening when Dr. Rogers discusses the drugs used to control hypertension, such as the Beta Blockers, the ACE Inhibitors as well as those drugs that cause high blood pressure as a side effect, such as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs e.g. Vioxx and Celebrex): they all deplete potassium, magnesium and important heart foods like co-enzyme Q10. The most serious side effect of this symptom control-approach is cancer. All these drugs cause a general inflammatory response in the body which sets the stage for cancer.
The discussion of vitamins C and E in Rogers’ book are excellent. Both are not only anti-inflammatory, but actually prevent as well as treat all forms of heart disease effectively. Of course, Dr. Rogers gives you the nuts-and-bolts information on the biochemistry and healing mechanisms involved. (As an aside, erectile dysfunction is an early symptom of heart disease, not a Viagra deficiency. Your love life is controlled by the heart one way or the other!)
Dr. Rogers systematically presents the many causes of heart disease including plasticizers stock-piled in our bodies, heavy metals, contaminated food, over-the-counter drugs, gum disease and more. She then presents all the preventive and therapeutic measures, chief amongst which is, of course, food. It turns out, for example, that the observation found in the writings of Hippocrates (2,500 BCE), that fresh celery is good for the heart, is true: within minutes it actually affects blood flow everywhere! The Romans believed that celery was an aphrodisiac and served it at weddings. This would certainly have worked for older bridegrooms burdened with a life-long diet of too much fat and alcohol and too little fresh fruit and veggies; they would have received a welcome shot of blood supply where it counts.
Understanding and acting on Dr. Roger’s book will have healing effects not only for individuals, but also for Planet Earth. What medical science knows about diet and heart is such as to confirm that our exploitation of Earth’s finite resources through a meat-based diet not only wrecks our indispensably important climate, but also provides the main triggers for cardiovascular disease. Danish cardiologist, Dr. Ole Faergeman, discusses the connection between heart disease and climate brilliantly; his book is highly recommended as a companion to Dr. Roger’s book. Paraphrasing Jesus’ saying that “What you do for the least among you, is also done for me”, one might say today, that what we do for the health of our cells, we also do for the health of the Earth.
• S. Rogers, MD, The High Blood Pressure Hoax, SandKey, 2005 (1-800-846-6687, www.prestigepublishing.com). In Toronto, the book is available at The Big Carrot Dispensary (349 Danforth), Eternal Moment Bookstore (Bloor Street), and Smiths Pharmacy (Yonge St, north of Lawrence).
• E.M. Cranton, MD, Bypassing Bypass Surgery, Hampton Roads, 2001
• C. Dean, MD, The Miracle of Magnesium, 2nd ed., Random House, 2006
• S. Ellison, Health Myths Exposed, Author House, 2005
• O. Faergeman, Coronary Artery Disease: Genes, Drugs and the Agricultural Connection, Elsevier, 2003
• P. Pearsall, The Heart’s Code, Broadway Books, 1998
• R. Pelton & J.B. LaValle, The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs, 2nd ed., Morton, 2004
• U. Ravnskov, MD, The Cholesterol Myth, New Trends Publishing, 2000
• K.-G. Wenzel & R. Pataracchia, The Earth’s Gift to Medicine: Minerals in Health and Disease, Kos, 2005 (519-927-1049, www.kospublishing.com