Thursday, November 19, 2009

Your Heart (Page 1, 11/20/08)

Your heart is a marvel of engineering and strength! It’s a unique muscle with amazing complexity and endurance.

Incredibly, the heart is only the size of a fist and weighs less than a pound. Yet it can pump the equivalent of about 2,000 gallons of blood through nearly 60,000 miles of arteries and veins each day!

It works tirelessly to pump blood throughout our lives, bringing oxygen and nourishment to every organ, muscle and cell (about 10 trillion)!

Here's a link to a 10-second animation (will open new window, hit arrow to play, repeat if desired):

So pause, take a few deep breaths, and feel that vital connection to your heart. Yes, feel some appreciation and awe—it’s a marvel of ingenuity!

Artery Plaque Creeps In

Like any organ in the body, the heart and its arteries will reflect the choices we make, good or bad. And bad choices will often lead to problems. When that happens, this critical organ can bring sudden disability or death—I’ve lost friends and relatives to unexpected heart attacks. Some were only in their 40s and 50s—and gone forever! We all need to know more about lowering our risk to maximize the heart’s longevity!

Based on what I know, artery plaque is more of a symptom; it reflects a chronic lack of healthy function. Like high-blood pressure or diabetes, plaque can creep into your life without initial symptoms. But having no chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness doesn’t mean your heart is healthy. Some studies show that more than 60% of men over 50 already have artery plaque, including plaque that is calcified. Some studies are finding early plaque in children as young as 10!
Critical Beat: By making better choices in your lifestyle, you can slow the growth of artery plaque or even reverse it. You can take more control! I’ve done it with a moderate diet and nutritional supplements (no drugs). I can help you understand why some choices are more effective, and how you can make a transition toward improved health and longevity!

I know that medical people will disagree with my experience that plaque, including calcified plaque is reversible, but my own research and experience (and those of some doctors like Dr. Davis) tell a different story. See page 2 for more information. (Note: In 2009, I put all the posts on a single, long page because archiving each post on a page didn't work right--the order got scrambled).

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for educational use and is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis or treatment of a licensed professional.

© 2008-2010 by Steve/Beat Heart Disease

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What is Heart Disease? (Page 2)

Heart disease is a broad term that describes several heart conditions (heart failure, heart valve disease, etc.), and often refers to the build up of fatty areas called plaques. These form in arteries, including the heart, or coronary arteries (they are called coronary arteries because they resemble a crown over the heart).

About 1 million people have a heart attack annually, and a high percentage don’t survive the initial attack. Remember Tim Russert, the Moderator of Meet the Press? I still miss him. Sadly, heart attacks are the number one cause of death in the U.S. The CDC estimates that 2008 costs for coronary heart disease will be more than 150 billion, a staggering amount for something that is largely preventable.

Heart, or coronary arteries are quite small. Picture the width of a number 2 pencil for the wider areas at the top, tapering down to a smaller size that is only about 1/8" in average thickness. With tubes about the size of an ink-pen cartridge, coronary arteries supply blood to the heart, yet they don’t have much room for error!

Here's a link to a graphic of the heart and its arteries (will open a new window): 

Did you notice how small the arteries look? That's a reason plaque build-up is such a concern. Plaque is an area of fatty, waxy material that’s made of oxidized LDL cholesterol, immune and inflammatory cells, and eventually, calcium. Plaque is not water soluble so it doesn’t dissolve. Think oil and water. The oil stays in separate globs rather than dissolving. Eventually, plaque will grow until it narrows arteries and inhibits blood flow. When the heart gets less blood then it needs, symptoms will often occur, such as shortness of breath, chest pain/pressure, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, etc.

Critical Beat: Plaque and debris can also break loose (especially when inflammation is high), causing a clot, which can block heart arteries. The result: A heart attack, where the heart muscle is starved of blood, oxygen and nutrients. Too often, these are fatal and can occur without previous symptoms or warnings, such as chest pain (angina) or shortness of breath. See page 3 for more!

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for education and is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment or advice of a licensed professional.

© 2008-2010 by Steve/Beat Heart Disease

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Risk Factors (Page 3)

There are appear to be several reasons for artery injuries (lesions) and inflammation, followed by plaque build up. The arteries are under pressure as the heart beats, and places where junctions and bends occur can create mechanical stress and turbulence. These are thought to be a basis for early injury. You might have seen water in a stream as it swirls around rocks, causing similar turbulence. Plus, the heart beats; it moves and flexes constantly, so the arteries move with every beat!

What seems to happen is that the artery’s thin, inner layer (the endothelium) gets stressed and injured. The body attempts to repair the injury or lesion but the process can keep going, creating a problem inside a small space! Here is a link to a graphic of artery plaque and its growth (remember it's only about 1/8" in diameter). It shows early years at the top and later years toward the bottom (will open a new window):

In addition, many of us have contributing (or risk) factors that can add inflammation, such as:
high blood pressure
high cholesterol
gum disease/infections

lack of sleep

There are other possible risk factors but the above list has the major ones. I know this can seem daunting! The process of plaque growth is complex, and the risk factors seem like a part of daily life. And you're right! The risk factors on the above list (except age) largely reflect our choices, and are often related to each other. That also means that you can manage them, more simply then you might think. When you do, you will have better overall health, energy, and longevity!

To manage plaques, it’s important to keep inflammation low. That’s why health professionals have recommended a small, 81 mg. coated aspirin daily (aspirin has both anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties), along with other eating and lifestyle improvements, such as cutting saturated fat and refined carbs, and controlling other risk factors.

A significant component of plaque is oxidized LDL. Oxidized LDL is created by free radicals (unstable molecules) that turn the LDL rancid (like rancid oil or butter, which are also oxidized). This LDL is more toxic and sticky in the bloodstream. Our immune system sees the oxidized LDL as foreign and it attacks the molecule with white cells inside the artery wall where the particles stick.

To minimize LDL oxidation (picture an apple or avocado turning brown after its cut), take more antioxidants. Antioxidants will help to replace the missing oxygen molecule in free radicals, helping to minimize oxidation, including LDL oxidation.

Helpful tip: Vitamins A/beta carotene, C , E, K, selenium, etc., are all antioxidants, and taking a quality, bio-available multivitamin and mineral supplement will give you some foundational amounts (they work together more effectively). Plus, colorful fruits and vegetables (which can also help stabilize blood sugar) have antioxidant effects: think green, yellow, orange, red, blue, purple, etc.

For example, fruits and natural juices like acai, pomegranate, and blueberry have good antioxidant (free radical) capabilities. And there has been research that free radicals contribute to our aging, including our skin, joints, and organs. Yes, wrinkles too, so looking your best reflects feeling your best!

Here is a recent article on juices (will open a new window): For a healthy beverage besides coffee or soda, several cups of green (or white) tea can offer beneficial flavanols (antioxidants).

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for education and is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment or advice of a licensed professional. Statements regarding the properties or functions of nutritional supplements may not have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
© 2008-2010 by Steve/Beat Heart Disease

Friday, November 28, 2008

Calcium CT Scans (Page 4)

CT scans for artery calcium are a newer way to look for plaque. The test is non-invasive and takes about 15 minutes. I think these tests have potential, but also need more development. Why? I see 5 Important Issues:

1. Most of those tested had no symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or other symptom of heart disease. That skews the numbers away from heart attacks or events and their predictability.

In fact, correlations between specific scores and cardiac events is still unclear, especially for numbers below about 400. Take a score of 250. What does that signify? It’s near the middle of the 101-400 category (called moderate plaque), but are there obstructions or vulnerable plaques? Is there fast or slow growth of plaque? How long has the plaque been there? The scans can’t answer these important questions.

2. Because the scores are skewed toward healthy people without symptoms (they use your age and score to put you in a percentile grouping), your ranking can also be skewed. Think of how unequal these calcium ranges are:
0-10 (minimal plaque)
11-100 (mild plaque)
101-400 (moderate plaque)
401-above (extensive plaque)

These categories become more broad above 100. Ask yourself if 101 is equal to 350 (both in the moderate plaque category)? Is 401 the same as 650 (both in the extensive category)? Of course not. Why weren’t these categories set up with smaller increments of 50 or 100?

When these unequal categories are graphed, you can see how vague the scores are. The graphs have equal spacing for 0-10 (10 total points), 11 to 100 (90 points), and 101-400 (300 points). So for the lower range of the 101-400 section, say 150, the plaque will probably be non-obstructive, allowing good blood flow, but the score won’t tell you for sure. And tests for actual obstructions (like angiograms) cost thousands, and are usually done when blockages are already suspected.

Scores above 400, especially as they climb toward 1,000, seem to have higher probabilities for artery narrowing (stenosis) and a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, but even that outcome is not certain. People in this category will tend to have more symptoms, but calcium scans for people in these higher risk categories are not always useful. You might undergo other tests to determine actual blockages or degree of stenosis.

Critical beat:
The American Heart Association recently recommended that people in the intermediate risk in the Framingham Risk assessment (a 10% to 20% heart attack risk in 10 years) have scans. (See this site for your own assessment.):

The AHA has determined that people in low or high risk categories will not benefit from scans as much. Their position validates much of what I’m saying (See page 5 for the remaining points on this topic).

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for educational use and is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis or treatment of a licensed professional.

© 2008-2010 by Steve/Beat Heart Disease

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Calcium CT Scans (Page 5)

3. Calcified plaque can be more stable because it’s less prone to rupture. But the scan can’t really tell you how stable the plaque is. Hopefully, these issues will be resolved in the coming years and more predictably will be established. For now, these scans are more of a snapshot, like an opinion poll. Here is a site that has some basic info and photos showing calcified plaque:

4. Although many in the medical community agree that calcified plaque is around 20% of total plaque, these tests don't decipher the hard and soft plaque ratio (cholesterol, lipids, foam cells, etc.) on an individual basis.

There is also variability in the scoring, depending on heart rate, body composition, and the radiologist’s skill in reading results, so these numbers are not as absolute as they might seem. The studies indicate that the scores can vary, with the calcium Volume Score tending to be being more accurate and reproducible compared to the Agatston Score, which can vary by 15-20%. Overall, it seems that these scores are more of a guide.

5. I’ve had questions about whether the plaque growing or retreating? Studies indicate that plaque is an active, ongoing process and can grow 10% to 30% annually, which is troublesome. But in individual cases, a single test doesn't predict plaque progression or regression until an additional test is run. Did you recently improve your eating plan or exercise? If so, the plaque might stabilize or regress. What’s more, even if you score a 0, you could have a heart attack next week, do to a rupture of soft plaque, not visible in these scans.

Critical Beat: One study showed that people with more stable plaque (growing less than 15% per year), had fewer heart problems or heart attacks. Those with plaque growing much faster (more than 15% per year) had a much higher rate of heart attacks over a 6-year span. This is important, because it indicates that stabilization of plaque growth can lower the probability for a heart attack, and this is an achievable goal if you want it!

Many adults accumulate artery plaque with age. And men tend to have more than women for a comparable age—studies show that women lag men by about 10 years. For adults over 50, about 65% of men and 30% of women have some calcified plaque.
For adults over 60, the numbers increase significantly: About 85% of men and 50% of women have calcified plaque. Those numbers continue to grow: By age 70, nearly 95% of men and 75% of women have some calcified plaque in their heart arteries!

Here is a link that has some interesting charts and graphs about artery calcium, especially near the bottom:

Here’s the bottom line for me: We have lost our way when it comes to eating and lifestyle, and our unhealthy choices are leading to bad results! Remember, artery plaque is largely a symptom which can reflect a chronic lack of healthy function. It’s time to consider a fresh start!

If you’re a male over 45 or a female over 50, with a typical western diet (high-saturated fat and refined carbs), and risk factors like those on page 3, there’s a good chance you have artery plaque (and heart disease). In fact, the odds for artery plaque are so high with advancing age, I don’t think people need a heart scan, unless you want to know the score and details. Maybe later, when they have better correlations of plaque score to risk factors and events, we can make better use of that information.

As you get older, the odds climb to a 75-95% probability of having artery plaque so why wait for a heart attack or stroke? Remember, plaque is largely a symptom tied to eating and lifestyle choices. So just take control on your own, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain! There is no one stopping you!

In future pages, I’ll lay out some ideas for eating and supplements. As you’ll see, I have tasty, fulfilling meals!

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for educational use and is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis or treatment of a licensed professional.

© 2008-2010 by Steve/Beat Heart Disease

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How I Reduced Plaque (Page 6)

Several years ago, I had a heart scan, after hearing that they were good for people over 50. I had an ultrasound screening a few years ago (carotid arteries, aorta, etc.), and the results were normal so I wasn’t expecting anything in the heart scan. I’ve never had heart symptoms, such as chest pain, arm pain, shortness of breath, etc.

When I got the scan results, I was surprised to find that there was some plaque in one artery. After some research, I found that scores under 400 are unlikely to have artery narrowing, and I was less then half of that score.

These scans show calcified plaque. I did some research and found a lot of controversy about calcium scans and scoring: their inability to show blockage or narrowing, their reproducibility and margin of error, as well as predictability for later heart events all created questions about the scan’s value (see page 4 and 5 of this blog for more detail on these scores).

These scans show "hard plaque" as opposed to fatty streaks or lipid "soft plaques." Research shows that hard plaque is more stable and less prone to rupture. It’s the softer plaque that can rupture more easily, causing a sudden clot. Still, I decided to see if working with supplements could help lower my cholesterol a bit more (My LDL ran in the low 100s few a years ago).

After the scan, I remembered that I was a smoker in my late teens and early 20s. I also had my share of burgers, fries, and fast food, not to mention all the butter and cheese I had as a kid—I’m from Wisconsin, the Dairy State! Plus, I did have borderline-high cholesterol in my 30s and 40s. I realized that this history is probably where the plaque began, and once plaque starts, it tends to keep growing unless you make changes to your lifestyle, which I did!

Although I had made some healthy changes since those early years, I still had artery plaque. After that first scan, I did lots more research and developed a plan. It was time to tackle this issue and work harder with my diet and supplements!

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for education and is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment or advice of a licensed professional.

© 2008-2010 by Steve/Beat Heart Disease

Monday, November 24, 2008

My “Second Life” Plan (Page 7)

If you’ve read the previous pages of this blog, you know that artery plaque (and heart disease) can creep into your life without symptoms, resulting in a heart attack. For too many, that happens suddenly, without warning.

Artery plaque develops over decades if we don't address it (we seem to wait too long because we lack early symptoms), and because many believe it’s not fully reversible, people can feel stuck with the risk. Patients are often put on drugs, but with no permanent reversal or cure in sight.

Now I realize we can manage or reverse artery plaque and what we call heart disease, and without super-strict eating or drugs, depending on your risk factors. Along with nutritional supplements, you can probably regress plaque and reset your aging clock.

So let’s work together on your Second Life, your next 45 years! Imagine a rebirth and a fresh start, like a reboot of your computer to clear the old memory and restart new ideas. My hope is to make this approach a part of our culture. Think of the 40th birthday as the new beginning, where looking forward to vitality and health into our 90s is the new normal!

My Meal Plan (supplements on pages 8-9):
Breakfast: I have a small omelette with egg substitute or low-cholesterol eggs, lightly sprinkled with shredded cheese (a few tablespoons for flavor). I top with some tomato sauce (for the lycopene), and add a few sesame crackers. On alternate days, I have honey-sweetened, natural granola with dried fruit, nuts, and cinnamon. I have a cup of coffee with a little half and half and I take 3-4 supplements.

These meals have low-saturated fat and refined carbs. They have proteins, vitamins and minerals. They are flavorful and satisfying, and you can prepare them the night before.

Lunch: Soup, with some added veggie slices, such as mushrooms, olives, or artichoke-heart pieces, and some pieces of lean protein, such as grilled, skinless chicken-breast.

The veggies have complex carbohydrates (to stabilize blood glucose), plus vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. The mushrooms have special antioxidants to fight plaque. And for those who like meat, you can have some lean meat with this diet (such as fish and broiled or grilled skinless chicken). To finish, a few dark chocolate chips (bittersweet) as a healthy treat. Like breakfast, this meal is low in saturated fats and refined carbs. I take 3-4 supplements with lunch.

Afternoon snack: A small piece of salmon, some low-salt nuts (almonds and walnuts are best), and a few olives or other veggie snacks. I take a few more supplements.
The salmon is light, healthy protein, the nuts and olives have healthy oils. If you work in an office, the nuts are easy to carry and store, and you can buy some veggy sticks too.

Dinner: I have around 300-400 calories with lean protein (fish or chicken), veggies, and a small serving of carbs. Guess what? I cheat on dinner! I buy some healthy, frozen meals (without hydrogenated or trans fats), remove about 1/3 to 1/2 the carbs (rice or pasta), then add in veggies (grilled mushrooms, olives, whatever I have around). I aim for about 1/4 protein and fat, 1/4 carbs, and 1/2 veggies. I finish with a few dark chocolate (bittersweet) chips—a nice treat!

Like lunch, dinner is a good balance of lean protein, veggies, and a small portion of carbs. I know some people aren’t into veggies very much, but there are lots to choose from and you can steam, grill, oven roast, etc.

Try this site and see if there are several that you like—I bet you have some favorites, such as corn, carrots, or peas. Maybe some meaty mushrooms? There is a complete list on the bottom—they are links with more info about each one:

As an interesting note, there have been mice studies where one group was fed a diet of freeze-dried veggies: broccoli, green beans, corn, peas, and carrots. Their artery plaque was about 35% less in 4 months compared to the mice on a regular diet. So veggies really can make a difference!
Evening snack: a small amount of lean protein or a few low-salt nuts, maybe a slice of Swiss cheese, after I walk.

I’m a "grazer," with smaller meals/snacks during the day. I also drink 2 to 3 cups of green or white tea (white tea is actually a less processed version of green tea) daily. I also add curry or tumeric to many dishes, along with herbs and ground pepper or pepper flakes, for some zip! I boost flavor without more salt. I'll cover my basic "Second Life" supplements on page 8.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for educational use and is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis or treatment of a licensed professional.

©2008-2010 by Steve/Beat Heart Disease

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Basic Supplements (Page 8)

As we age, many of our bodily systems begin to work less efficiently. Hormones, such as growth hormone, DHEA, and sex hormones begin to drop in our 20s to 30s, and continue to fall as we get older. Digestion and absorption become less efficient. As our metabolism slows, we tend to put on weight because we fall behind these systemic declines, eating like we were still 20 or 25. As we put on weight, we complicate our health even more (higher blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc.).

Like many in my generation, I’ve been interested in healthy aging, and I’ve researched nutrition and supplements for a good 20 years. As a result, I do take nutritional supplements to maximize my energy and to maintain my health at the highest possible level. Here is an overview of my supplement intake for health before the initial scan and right after (feel free to research these nutritional supplements for their health benefits).
With breakfast:

1- Nature Made Multi for Him 50 + (No iron)
This is a decent vitamin and mineral supplement, with extra vitamins B, D, and selenium. It’s often on sale where I live.

1- L-Carnitine 500 mg.
L- Carnitine is a vitamin-like supplement that can boost energy, fat metabolism, support healthy cholesterol levels, etc.

1- DHEA (natural base with some breaks to cycle off) 20 mg.
This is considered a base or precursor hormone that the body can use to make many other hormones and help support many bodily functions, from physical to psychological.

1- Co-Q10, 50 mg. (every other day, alternate with Nature Made Stress B-Complex)
Co-Q10, also known as ubiquinone, supports good energy production on a cellular level. It’s also a good antioxidant, and supports healthy cardiovascular function.

I use a Stress B (Nature Made) that has B-complex vitamins, as well as vitamin C and with minerals like zinc.

With lunch:

1- Nature’s Way Alive Multi-Vitamin (No iron)This is an excellent vitamin, with added fruit and vegetable extracts, antioxidants, digestive enzymes, and other healthful components. I like the tablets, although they are somewhat large, like a large fish-oil capsule.
1- Alpha Lipoic Acid 100 mg.
ALA is known as a super antioxidant/free-radical scavenger. It works in both water and fat environments in the body, and can supports healthy liver function and blood glucose levels.

1- Fish Oil/Omega 3 1000 mg. (enteric coating/no burp every other day, alternate with Calcium Citrate/magnesium/D combo 500 mg. or magnesium only (200 mg.)
Fish oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and they can help to reduce inflammation/pain, as well as support good cardiovascular and brain health.

The calcium and magnesium are important supplements, especially because I don’t eat much dairy. They are key minerals for overall bodily function, including heart and vascular function, bone and muscle, and pH balance so it’s less acidic. They work together and have better absorbency when taken together.

After the scan in 2006, I began to work harder on my cholesterol and diet. I added these supplements to help control my cholesterol:

1- Sytrinol 150 mg. every other morning on egg days
Sytrinol is a citrus-based supplement that is clinically tested to lower LDL and triglycerides by about 30%. It also has anti-inflammatory effects.

1- Red Yeast Rice capsule 600 mg. every other day

Red Yeast Rice is helpful is supporting healthy LDL levels.One important note is that I prefer to take one of any supplement as opposed to taking multiple quantities. It brings overall balance and a more broad-based approach.

I stayed on these until I recovered from a car accident in late 2005, which took several years. This program and diet probably helped to stabilize the growth of plaque to a degree. It wasn’t until the spring of 2008 that I delved farther into the plaque reversal issues, which I will summarize next.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for educational use and is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis or treatment of a licensed professional. Statements regarding the properties or functions of nutritional supplements may not have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

©2008-2009 by Steve/Beat Heart Disease

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Reversal Supplements (Page 9)

For many years, I’ve tried to find the most effective ways to maintain my health and longevity so I don’t get a disease. I have blood tests every year or two to see how things are doing. They aren't too expensive, and let me know if I’m headed in the right direction.

Although my cholesterol has run slightly high at times, the supplements I’ve been taking, such as Red Yeast Rice and Sytrinol have helped, and recent levels have been decent. My total cholesterol ran in the low 200s for several years (now in the 175-185 range) while my HDL (good) cholesterol was in the 55 to 60 range, a good level. My LDL was in the low 100s and triglycerides were usually in the normal range.

I began to read about Nitric Oxide and how it could help relax (or dilate) and even heal the endothelial (inner lining) of blood vessels. I started taking a supplement to help raise NO: L-Arginine and L-Citrulline.

I also read that vitamin K2 could help to prevent or reverse artery plaque so I started taking Vitamin K2.

I also added 500 mg. of chewable Vitamin C with rosehips (some with afternoon snack, the rest with dinner).

Starting in March of 2008, I also started taking another supplement that's a super antioxidant. It also helps inflammation, is anti-clotting, and antiaging.

With this new supplement program, my total cholesterol and LDL went down.

I decided to take the fish oil every day, after reading more about its health benefits.

I didn’t mind adding these supplements to add more "muscle" to help reverse the plaque. Remember, plaque is largely a result of eating a sub-optimum diet with too much saturated fat (fatty meats, butter, cheese, fried foods, etc.) and refined carbs, coupled with other lifestyle choices like too little activity! I was ignorant in my teens and 20s and made the choices that led to plaque. Now it's my job to clean up the gooey mess!

None of these supplements have side effects in the doses I use, so there is no physical downside! Some cost yes, but given the cost of drugs, future tests, or treatments, the costs are minuscule!

I started taking the Sytrinol and Red Yeast Rice every day, and added Milk Thistle, just to help my liver function and cholesterol levels a bit more. By early fall, those ear creases I had improved and were less noticeable. They faded completely after brisk walking.

I started adding some intermittent jogging to my 15-minute walks in July, to help regain my stamina after the car accident. I’ve made slow, but steady progress in my jogging–I’m almost up to 1/2 mile total and I’m less cold at night with more energy.

The Re-scan

About 2 years after the initial scan, I got re-scanned. The news was good: Instead of climbing 10-30% each year (the average growth), my score dropped by more than 30% with no drugs. I also had some lean meat like skinless chicken and fish in my meals. (There has been some success with reversing plaque with a strict vegetarian diet but I think that’s too hard.)

The new score was more than 50% below the expected growth or score (had I not done anything with my diet and lifestyle), and a 33% reduction from the original score. And research shows that slow growing or reversed plaque is less likely to cause heart symptoms or events.

Many doctors will say you can’t reverse atherosclerosis or heart disease. My experience indicates that it is possible! Remember, atherosclerosis is largely a symptom; it’s a result of bad lifestyle and eating—we over-feed ourselves on too many saturated fats and refined carbs, and under-feed our need for nutrients. We don’t burn enough of these fats with exercise, leaving our blood too high in fats and cholesterol. Quite simply, we lack the balance we need to be healthy and our arteries simply reflect that!

I will stay on my Second Life eating and supplement program for now. My goal is to get the Volume Score to below 100, where I probably was in my 20s or 30s. In fact, I averaged my 4-5 decades of plaque build up (skipping my first 10 years). By reducing my original score significantly, I have probably removed about 10 years worth of plaque in 6 months. By any measure, that’s a significant reversal, and my heart health is probably back where it was in my 40s!

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for educational use and is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis or treatment of a licensed professional. Statements regarding the properties or functions of nutritional supplements may not have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

©2008-2010 by Steve/Beat Heart Disease

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Quick-Start plan (Page 10)

In order to make a transition to making some eating changes, consider this Quick-Start Plan as a good choice.

Assuming that you're in overall good health (without any heart disease symptoms), here are 3 easy tips to get started on your "Second Life" program. That’s the program for the second 45 years for tackling heart disease and related risk factors:

1. Start drinking several cups/mugs of green or white tea each day (white tea is even higher in antioxidants). There are some brands that taste mellow and pleasant, and some have flavors like jasmine or orange. Studies show that green tea has significant health benefits—it can help to relax arteries up to 5%, and help to lower your blood pressure several points. It can also help to reduce inflammation, a known contributor to plaque growth. Try a few flavors and brands and find one you like. Drink this healthful beverage instead of coffee or soda during the day.

2. Eat small portions of dark chocolate a few times per day. A small handful (about a teaspoon) of chips is about right. I like bittersweet baking chips—they’re cheaper and have few extra ingredients. Some brands have more than 60% to70% cacao, which is great! Dark chocolate, like green tea, can help to relax arteries by about 5% and help to lower your blood pressure. Like green tea, it can also help reduce inflammation. It’s very high in antioxidants.

Both chocolate and green (or white tea, a less processed form), can also help LDL from oxidizing and make platelets less sticky to help prevent artery clots. Green tea acts rather quickly (in about 30 minutes), but doesn’t last as long as chocolate, so drink more green tea during the day.

3. If you’re a healthy adult, have a one-day juice fast several times a year. These are great for giving your digestive system a break and can help to clear fats and cholesterol from your system. It’s not hard to do, and you won’t feel like you’re starving! Drink every hour or so and you’ll feel full. You’ll probably loose a few pounds too! Here’s what I use for 1 day:

1-46 ounce size of V8 (low sodium)
1-carton of chicken broth (low sodium)
1-bottle (12 to 16 ounces) of natural juice like berry, pomegranate, carrot, or other antioxidant-rich juice (avoid added sugar or corn sweetener). Naked and Odwalla brands offer some good choices.
Several cups of green tea
Several glasses of water

Alternate drinks throughout the day for variety. For example, have some hot broth for lunch or dinner, and alternate juices, tea, and water when you feel hungry. About 1 glass per hour is right. If you have leftover juice the next day, extend until all the juice is finished!

In addition to giving your digestive system a good rest, with virtually no fat, you’ll also have little or no dietary cholesterol (great for helping plaque), and lots of healthy antioxidants to help lower inflammation and improve your metabolic functions! Try this every 3 months to really gain some good benefits!

Plan for a relaxing day, probably a weekend day is best. You can do some light physical activity, such as gardening or walking. Try to consider what your Second Life will be like. Will you be energetic and vibrant or infirm and disabled with a sudden end? That choice is largely yours!

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for educational use and is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis or treatment of a licensed professional. Statements regarding the properties or functions of nutritional supplements may not have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

©2008-2009 by Steve/Beat Heart Disease

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Second-Life Tips (Page 11)

If you've read the previous 10 pages, you understand more about our amazing hearts, heart disease and artery plaque, and how to tackle it. As many people are tied to the psychological aspects of red meat and fried foods, plus processed, salty chips, crackers, soda, cookies, and other sweets, we need to provide some sense of fulfillment.

These foods often contribute to significant (and silent) health problems like high-blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Weight gain is another result that can sneak up on people.

There are good alternatives that can leave you feeling full and satisfied—and that’s the key! Use olive oil instead of butter, but use sparingly, such as on salads or grilled veggies. Also, make a more comfortable transition in your eating by moving in smaller steps over several weeks.

Add more veggies and have less refined (white) carbs. Have more lean meats and fish instead of red meat. Make a gradual, phased transition over several weeks rather than opting for sudden change—that can create a sense of feeling deprived and feelings of loss of what you are used to! I can help provide coaching for these changes. Send me an e-mail at the contact info and we’ll discuss in more detail.

Lets recall the benefits of the "Second Life" eating and supplement plan. It’s lower in saturated fats and refined carbs, and higher in nutrient rich, flavorful veggies, fruits, and antioxidants. Those changes will keep you feeling young inside and out, helping you to manage wrinkles too!

As an additional benefit, think about your family, friends and loved ones. Think about your life, career, and future. Think about how much better you can feel, how much more productive you can be as you get older, keeping a higher level of vitality as you move into your second life.

Here’s a secret I didn’t tell you before: The "Second Life" eating plan and nutritional can also help you manage the risk factors I listed on page 3, such as high-blood pressure, weight gain, and diabetes!

That means, you might not need other diets or drugs to manage those other risk factors, but see how it compares to recommendations you might already have. Remember how green tea and chocolate can help relax arteries and help keep them flexible? That’s another critical step in keeping plaque at bay! Do the juice fasts a few times a year too, and you’re starting to evolve a new second life!

We can all enjoy more healthy and flavorful foods, having the unhealthy one a few times a year. Let’s enjoy more lean meats (broiled, grilled, or baked), veggies, including healthy choices like olives, artichokes, mushrooms, squash, etc., some whole grains (as a side dish) and fruits.

Use more spices and herbs for flavor—did you know that oregano can help boost your immune system? Use cinnamon to help blood sugar and curry for inflammation. I blend those to create an interesting flavor. Add the right supplements to help counter the loss of digestive abilities and drop in hormones.

Here’s the bottom line: You can take control of your life and health. You can become more educated and begin to make better choices. In that process, you will have more energy and quality of life as you age, with less risk of disability, heart attack, or sudden death.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for educational use and is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis or treatment of a licensed professional. Statements regarding the properties or functions of nutritional supplements may not have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

©2008-2009 by Steve/Beat Heart Disease