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Common parasites of the human body
(1) The hookworm latches on the walls of the colon with its sharp teeth where it feeds on blood. (2) The tapeworm is the longest parasite. A mature adult can lay a million eggs a day. (3) Tapeworm eggs embedded in the colon. (4) The roundworm can grow to be 20 inches (50 cm) long and lay 200,000 eggs per day. (5) Pinworms migrate outside the colon during the night to lay their eggs around the anus. This causes the nightly itching of many unsuspecting victims.
The longer the transit time, the longer the toxic waste matter sits in the bowels, allowing proteins to putrefy, fats to become rancid, and carbohydrates to ferment. The longer the body is exposed to rotting food in the intestines, the greater the risk of developing disease. Even with one bowel movement per day, there are still at least three meals’ worth of waste sitting in the colon at any given time.
• How to maintain your health and vitality through internal cleansing
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and wellness revolution
• How to cleanse your arteries – New life for
• How to detoxify your liver, kidneys and other organs
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Read Our Current Newsletter
How to cleanse your arteries and protect yourself with one of the most effective,
least expensive, and safest natural treatments
By Dr. Terezia Fauszt, MD faculty member and medical advisor for the Global Institute For Alternative Medicine
Most people don’t start worrying about heart disease until they pass the 40 mark. In the past few years, however, reports started surfacing about signs of cardiovascular disease appearing in the teenage years.
The journal of the American Heart Association, Circulation, reported three years ago that many U.S. teenagers already have arteries clogged so badly they could suffer heart attacks. In a recent study pathologists examined the bodies of 760 teenagers and young people to determine the cause of death . These young people were all victims of suicide, homicides, or accidents. Although they died of other causes, their arteries looked as if someone had filled them with a hard waxy plaque. (1)
America's Youth Have Clogged Arteries
Dr. Arthur Zieske, a pathologist at Louisiana State University who worked on the above study, said in a statement:
“Most people think of heart disease as an adult disease. But what we have found is it affects young people – very young people – too.” (2)
The fact that artery disease begins in childhood suggests that preventing future heart disease is also a pediatric problem. Senior researcher Dr. Henry McGill, senior scientist emeritus at Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, who led the above study, told ABC News:
“The bottom line is that long-range prevention of coronary artery disease has got to begin in childhood, or at least adolescence. It’s a hard sell, teenagers think they’re immortal. I still have a grandson, who, despite all our family discussions, still orders the double cheeseburger with extra bacon and fries.” (3)
(or atherosclerosis) is a condition in which fatty material is deposited along
the walls of arteries.
This fatty material thickens, hardens, and may eventually block the arteries. (Dr. McGill has a shocking gallery of pictures showing the gradual advancement of arterial disease at the following link: http://pathology.uthscsa.edu/MSII/cas_home.html)
The current situation is already a nightmare, but what will happen to the next generation if this trend is to continue? Will our future offspring be born with already clogged arteries?
The hardening of the arteries
All this clearly shows that heart disease is a progressive condition that takes many years to develop. The most common and also the most insidious form of heart disease is arteriosclerosis - the hardening of the arteries. Arteriosclerosis is caused by a multiple of complex factors. The end result is a plaque formation that accumulates on the inside of the arterial walls and blocks blood flow. The plaque is mostly composed of heavy metals, fibrous tissue, cholesterol and calcium. As this plaque build-up becomes progressively thicker, the diameter inside the arteries becomes narrower, thereby decreasing the blood circulation through the whole body, including to the heart and brain.
A recent study conducted at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation looked at the coronary arteries of 181 heart transplant recipients after transplantation. Although donors were thought to be heart disease-free, evidence of arteriosclerosis was found in all age groups. For instance, 26 of 36 heart donors between 41 and 50 years of age had evidence of coronary artery disease. That’s more than 70 percent! Can you imagine what the percentage must be like for people in their 50s, 60s or older?
Severe build-up will ultimately lead to heart attacks, stroke, senility, and possible amputation of extremities. Heart attacks are caused by blood clots in the coronary arteries, while strokes are brought on by a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain.
Plaque blockages in the blood vessels reduce the flow of blood, starving the vital organs of oxygen and other nutrients. Cell walls become leaky, allowing excess calcium, sodium, and other elements to enter. When calcium accumulates to a critical point, it forms a concrete-like deposit.
Staggering list of problems
The list of problems caused by artery disease is truly staggering and not the least bit surprising since a fresh supply of oxygenated blood is absolutely necessary for the proper functioning of every organ. Even diseases caused by factors other than decreased blood flow are made worse by arteriosclerosis. For example, diabetes often deteriorates when blood flow to the pancreas is insufficient. A poor blood supply to the stomach and small intestines results in poor digestion. It causes slowing of the colon with resulting colon disease. The joints, particularly the ones found in the lower back, become inflamed and painful when there’s a reduction in blood flow to the area. Arteriosclerosis also plays a big part in the development of arthritis in various parts of the body.
The effect on the extremities can be as minor as cold hands and feet, or as severe as gangrene in advanced cases. Impotence can also be caused by decreased blood flow to the penis due to clogged arterioles. Cancerous tumors are known to accelerate when blood flow isn’t voluminous enough to the affected tissues. When circulation is insufficient the immune system is drastically weakened. The list of aches, pains, discomforts and diseases caused, or aggravated by arteriosclerosis is endless. Still, this condition has the most detrimental effect on the heart, causing angina pectoris (chest pain originating in the heart) and eventually infarction and death.
What can you do?
Start with Vitamark’s basc program
Fortunately, with a healthy diet, the right vitamins, supplements and exercise, most cases of heart disease can actually be prevented. The only catch is that you have to start paying attention to these things at a very young age. But what can you do if you didn’t start eating right and exercising from childhood, but still want to avoid the sad statistics of every second person dying from heart disease? Here are a few suggestions you can start working on immediately.
It’s never too late to start exercising. There’s a decrease in the heart rates of previously sedentary people after just 18 weeks on a walking program. Exercise assists in weight loss, strengthening the heart muscle, improving blood flow, reducing high blood pressure and raising HDL cholesterol levels while lowering LDL levels.
The British Heart Foundation reports that people who do not exercise are twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease as those who exercise on a regular basis. If people who exercise suffer a heart attack, their risk of dying from it is half that of those who do not exercise.
Dietary changes are crucial to preventing heart and artery disease. Here are some healthy dietary guidelines to follow:
• The main part of your diet should consist of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
• Stay away from fast or processed foods in every form. Food additives, preservatives and colorings are detrimental to your health.
• Buy organic foods (free of pesticides, herbicides, steroids, and antibiotics) whenever possible.
• Reduce fat intake, specifically those from animal fat, fried foods, and partially hydrogenated oils. Margarine is especially harmful. Increase complex carbohydrates such as beans, seeds, potatoes, and whole grains.
• Increase fiber intake from sources like fresh fruit, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and pre-packaged high-quality fiber supplements (the best choices combine soluble and insoluble fiber).
• Use monounsaturated oils (like extra virgin olive oil), and take omega 3 fish oil capsules.
• Reduce, or eliminate, the consumption of meat, tobacco, alcohol and sugar – they all contribute to free radical damage. Vitamark soy products
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For a few decades now, there’s been a very simple way of cleansing your arteries of deadly plaque build-up. This method is known as chelation therapy. The components of chelation therapy help “grab onto” and eliminate harmful substances from the circulatory system. The most potent chelator is an amino acid called EDTA (ethylenediamine tetra-acetic acid). Repeated administrations of EDTA gradually reduce arteriosclerotic plaque and other mineral deposits throughout the cardiovascular system by literally dissolving them away.
Chelation therapy is not a new procedure. It was first introduced in the U.S. in 1948 as a medical treatment for industrial workers who suffered from lead poisoning. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Navy prescribed chelation therapy for sailors who had absorbed lead while painting government ships and dock facilities. In the years since, chelation therapy has remained the undisputed treatment of choice for lead poisoning.
New life for old arteries
In the early 1950s it was speculated that EDTA chelation therapy might help the accumulations of calcium deposits associated with hardening of the arteries. Experiments were performed and victims of arteriosclerosis experienced various health improvements following chelation - diminished angina, better memory, improved vision and hearing, and increased energy. A number of physicians then began routinely treating individuals who suffered from cardiovascular conditions with chelation therapy. Consistent improvements were reported for most patients.
“During the past forty years,” writes Dr. Morton Walker in his highly recommended book, Everything You Should Know About Chelation Therapy, “the chelation process has been a primary source of saving the lives of more than ten million North Americans who had been close to death from myocardial infarction, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, angina pectoris or other types of cardiovascular disease. The number of stories showing the benefits of chelation therapy are too many to retell or even count.”
IV or oral EDTA?
Chelation therapy is available through two very beneficial methods: intravenous and oral. Intravenous chelation has been used with great success for many decades. The only drawbacks are that you have to find a qualified physician to administer it, you need numerous treatments (anywhere from 20-50, lasting 3-4 hours each) and it costs between $2,000 and $4,000. (Which is nothing compared to the price tag for the average bypass or angioplasty surgery. Not to mention the fact that both of these procedures unclog only a few inches of the arteries while chelation targets the entire cardiovascular system.)
Chelation therapy is available
in two forms: intravenously
at a medical clinic or orally in capsules.
During the 1980s, a more accessible form of chelation therapy was developed, one that could be administered orally. This new discovery made chelation as simple as taking a vitamin and also brought the price down considerably.
How effective and safe is EDTA chelation?
In 1976 cardiologist, Dr. Norman E. Clarke, appeared before the Advisory Panel on Internal Medicine of the Scientific Board of the California Medical Association and had the following to say about his pioneering activities with chelation therapy:
“I learned about EDTA in 1953… In the last 23 years of my experience with EDTA chelation… I have given at least 100,000 to 120,000 infusions of EDTA and seen nobody harmed. I’ve never seen any serious toxicity whatsoever. I’ve seen only benefits.” (4)
Eighty nine percent cancel their bypass surgery
Two Danish doctors, Hancke and Flytlie, treated 65 patients with chelation therapy who were on the waiting list for bypass surgery for an average of six months. Eighty nine percent of these patients were able to cancel their surgery because of symptomatic improvement. Similarly, they treated 27 patients who were recommended for amputation, and 24 affected limbs were saved. Of 92 patients referred for surgical intervention, only 10 required surgery after or during their treatment period with chelation therapy. The savings amounted to $3,000,000 in insurance benefits. The study spanned a period of six years, with no severe side effects or deaths arising from the treatment. Improvements were noted in 80 to 91 percent of patients. The doctors concluded that EDTA chelation therapy is safe, effective, and cost saving.
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Heart bypass surgery creates a detour or "bypass" around the blocked part of a coronary artery to restore the blood supply to the heart muscle. The heart surgeon makes an incision in the middle of the chest and separates the breastbone. Usually a vein removed from the leg is used for the bypass. After surgery, the breastbone is rejoined with wire and the incision is sewn closed.
Dr. Terry Chappell, in a letter to the editor of the Journal of Advancement in Medicine, noted that if similar results were obtained in the United States, in 1992 alone, 363,000 of 407,000 coronary artery bypasses would have been avoided and 102,000 limbs would have been saved with treatment by chelation therapy. The direct cost savings, in 1992 alone, could have been as much as 8 billion dollars. (6)
Eighty seven percent of 22,765 patients showed clinical improvement
L. Terry Chappell, M. D., and John P. Stahl, Ph. D., published a sophisticated meta analysis of nineteen published clinical research studies meeting strict criteria for inclusion, with a total of 22,765 patients. Eighty seven percent of patients included in the meta analysis showed clinical improvement by objective testing. The correlation coefficient of r=0.88 indicated a strong relationship between EDTA therapy and improved cardiovascular function. (7)
Clear, objective evidence of significant improvement
In 1997 four medical doctors and a registered nurse reported of their study in the Journal of Integrative Medicine. The objective of their study was “to assess the clinical efficacy of an integrated management program including nutritional and herbal therapies, nongoal-oriented exercise, self- regulation, and EDTA chelation therapy for patients with advanced ischemic heart disease (IHD).”
The results of this program on the patients were the following: “excellent 61%, good 17%, moderate 13%, and poor 9%. Comparative study of pre- and post-chelation myocardial perfusion scans showed clear, objective evidence of significant improvement in myocardial perfusion in five of six patients in whom such studies were performed. No patients during the study period suffered an acute myocardial infarction or underwent angioplasty or coronary bypass operation.” (8)
Benefits of EDTA chelation
EDTA works by bonding to plaque, metals, and debris in the circulatory system and removing them through the body’s elimination system. Some metals, such as lead, mercury, and cadmium are poisons. All metals, even essential nutritional elements, are toxic in excess or when abnormally situated. EDTA normalizes the distribution of most metallic elements in the body.
Chelation therapy promotes health by correcting the major underlying cause of arterial blockage. Damaging free radicals are increased by the presence of metallic elements and act as a chronic irritant to blood vessel walls and cell membranes. Chelation therapy removes those metallic irritants, allowing leaky and damaged cell walls to heal. The plaque is dislodged, permitting more blood to pass through. Arterial walls become softer and more pliable, ensuring easier expansion.
“Good things happen with oral EDTA”
The "Father" of the modern chelation movement, and one of the cofounders of the American College of Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), is Garry F. Gordon, MD, DO. A world-renowned expert on chelation therapy, Dr. Gordon wrote the original protocol for the safe and effective use of EDTA. He has published many scientific papers and is co-author of the best-selling book, The Chelation Answer. Here is his take on oral chelation:
Dr. Gary Gordon
“I have taken on patients who were inoperable, who had already had every known form of bypass surgery, until there weren't any more veins in their legs to strip out to put in their hearts. They were sent home to die, and I could get those people back to full functioning. I've had doctor friends who wouldn't take the IV at first, but who are now on oral EDTA and are able to pass a treadmill stress test that they couldn't pass for five years. I've seen lots of good things happen with oral EDTA-based supplement programs.” (9)
“I've known people who had such poor peripheral circulation that their feet were black bordering on gangrene. After oral chelation, their black feet became pink again. I've known other people bordering on dementia whose long-lost memories came back again.”(10)
– Dr. Gary Gordon
- EDTA improves heart, brain, kidney, lung, and all organ functions by reducing arteriosclerotic plaque in the vascular system.
- EDTA removes toxic metals from the blood. As people age they continuously accumulate toxic metals: lead, mercury, aluminum, cadmium, and arsenic, among others. These toxins increase the risk of various diseases, especially heart disease.
- EDTA helps prevent heart attack, stroke, varicose veins, and more by inhibiting blood clotting. Because EDTA inhibits blood clotting so well, by tying up calcium, it is routinely added to blood samples that are drawn for testing purposes. Inhibition of blood clotting can help prevent stroke, heart attack, phlebitis (painful inflammation of a vein), pulmonary embolism (potentially fatal clot to the lung), or varicose veins.
- EDTA makes stronger bones and reduces cholesterol by improving calcium and cholesterol metabolism.
- EDTA can help to lower cholesterol, the principal component of arteriosclerotic plaque.
Other potential benefits of EDTA chelation
In the book, The Chelation Answer, authored by doctors Gordon, Walker and Douglass, the following additional benefits are mentioned. EDTA chelation helps to: (11)
• Prevent cholesterol deposits
• Lower high blood pressure
• Avoid bypass surgery
• Avoid angioplasty
• Dissolve intra-arterial blood clots
• Normalize cardiac arrhythmias
• Provide an anti-aging effect
• Reduce excessive heart contractions
• Reduce heart irritability
• Remove mineral and drug deposits
• Reduce heart-valve calcification
• Reduce varicose veins • Improve vision in diabetic retinopathy
• Decrease macular degeneration
• Dissolve small cataracts
• Eliminate heavy-metal toxicity
• Make arterial walls more flexible
• Prevent osteoarthritis
• Reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
• Reduce Alzheimer-like symptoms
• Reverse senility
• Improve memory
• Reverse diabetic gangrene
• Restore impaired vision
What nutrients should be included in an effective oral chelation formula?
The most important component of any oral chelation formula is, of course, the amino acid EDTA. Dr. Gordon highly recommends combining garlic and zinc with EDTA. He explains why:
“EDTA needs to be synergistically combined with certain nutrients. So when we give patients this combination, I can prove by platelet testing that these people will not develop excessive or dangerous clots, their platelets won't get sticky, and arteriosclerosis will slow down. […] Garlic will chelate lead and mercury, absolutely, without question. We have all sorts of research on this. Even red dye #40 will be chelated out by garlic. […] We know that EDTA is a nonspecific chelator, and we know that everyone who takes EDTA will have less lead in their blood and, presumably, in their body. But, zinc also comes out very fast in the urine, so when you take EDTA, you can induce zinc deficiency easily. I suggest taking it with an aggressive multiple vitamin mineral supplement, emphasizing zinc.” (12)
Since a potential zinc deficiency seems to be a major concern with chelation, it’s probably safest if 100 percent or more of the daily recommended amount of zinc is included in the oral chelation formula itself.
How much EDTA?
Researchers calculate the average human is already ingesting 15 to 50 milligrams of EDTA daily in their standard diet. (EDTA in small quantities is commonly added to food and is listed as an ingredient on many food labels.) Dr. Gordon believes that “an effective therapeutic dose of EDTA in products ought to be at least 500 milligrams or more.”
The Pauling Therapy
In my opinion, an arterial cleansing program provides the most benefits when it’s combined with the so- called Pauling Therapy for Heart Disease. Two-time Nobel laureate, Dr. Linus Pauling and his colleague, Dr. Matthias Rath, advocated taking large quantities of one of the most potent antioxidants, vitamin C, with the amino acids L-lysine and L-proline for the prevention and reversal of heart disease.
Dr. Pauling made it clear that the beneficial effects of his therapy are dosage dependent, and that products containing these ingredients should be of high potency. His recommendations:
• Every adult should take at least 3000 mg of vitamin C, and 1000-2000 mg of L-lysine every day as prevention against heart attacks and stroke.
• Those who are considered high risk, anyone whose immediate family member has had a heart attack or stroke, should take at least 3000 to 6000 mg of vitamin C and 2000 to 3000 mg of L-lysine per day.
• Those who already have had a heart attack or stroke should take at least 6000 or more mg of vitamin C and 4000 or more mg of L-lysine.
(The full text of Linus Pauling and Dr. Rath’s discovery, A Unified Theory of Human Cardiovascular Disease Leading the Way to the Abolition of This Disease as a Cause for Human Mortality, can be found on the website of The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine:
Omega-3 dramatically reduces deaths from heart attacks
There are literally thousands of studies showing the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, for a wide range of health conditions. Omega-3 can prevent heart disease by improving arterial elasticity. The presence of omega-3 fatty acids makes platelets in the blood less likely to clump together and form the clots that lead to heart attacks and strokes. It also may lower blood pressure and strengthens the heart’s electrical system. Omega-3 inhibits inflammation in the artery walls, which is a factor in plaque buildup.
A 10-year follow-up of the Nurses' Health Study showed a protective effect of omega-3 against a fatal heart attack. The women who consumed the most omega-3 were found to have only about half as many fatal heart attacks compared to those who consumed the least. (13)
Omega-3 can be obtained from eating fish, such as salmon, trout and tuna, or by taking fish oil supplements. Because of likely contamination problems with mercury, taking fish oil capsules may be safer than eating fish. However, you have to make sure that the brand you take goes through a filtration process called molecular distillation to filter out possible toxins.
Formulation is the key with oral chelation
The best EDTA chelation formula I’ve seen so far is synergistically combined with nutrients to specifically support mercury detoxification. (You can read about the dangers posed by mercury in amalgam fillings here.) This formula includes the selenium/vitamin recommendations of the Swedish Association of Dental Mercury Patients for detoxification of mercury caused by amalgam tooth fillings: selenium, vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc and magnesium. (The Association also recommends vitamin C in high doses, which is present in The Pauling Therapy.) In addition to these nutrients, Dr. Ziff and Dr. Hanson in their authoritative book, Dental Mercury Detox, also recommend glutathione, alpha-lipoic acid and garlic.
(DrNatura’s natural pharmacy offers, in my opinion, the most comprehensive program available for arterial cleansing. This scientifically formulated, highly effective therapy offers all the important supplements for heart health: EDTA, garlic, zinc, vitamin C, L-lysine, L-proline, omega-3, vitamins B6 and B12, vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, alpha lipoic acid, L-gluthatione, bioflavonoids and even EGCG, or green tea extract, an extremely potent free radical fighter, that has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the heart.)
We must take charge of our health. Prevention is always the best medicine, but it’s never too late to make lifestyle changes. Exercise, a healthy diet and the right supplements can all ensure that we don’t fall victim to the silent killer that is relentlessly stalking our heart and ultimately – our life.
Dr. Fauszt is a practicing cardiologist and a member of the Advisory Board of the Global Institute For Alternative Medicine.
Copyright © 2003 by GIFAM. All Rights Reserved.
(1) Circulation 2000 Jul 25;102(4):374-9
(2) Reuters: Even America's Youth Have Clogged Arteries, 07/26/2003
(3) ABCNEWS.com: Early Signs of Heart Disease - Study Finds Blocked Arteries in Teenagers, July 24, 2000
(4) Dr. Morton Walker: Everything You Should Know About Chelation Therapy, Keats Publishing, 1997
(5) Benefits of EDTA Chelation Therapy in Arteriosclerosis: A Retrospective Study of 470 Patients, Journal of Advancement in Medicine 6(3):161 170, Fall 1993.
(6) Chelation therapy, smoking and health care costs, Journal of Advancement in Medicine 7:107, 1994, letter to the editor
(7) The Correlation Between EDTA Chelation Therapy and Improvement in Cardiovascular Function: A Meta Analysis,” J Adv Med 6(3):139 160, Fall 1993
(8) Majid Ali, M.D., Omar Ali, M.D., Alfred Fayemi, M.D., Judy Juco, M.D., Carol Grieder-Brandenburger, R.N.: Improved Myocardial Perfusion in Patients with Advanced Ischemic Heart Disease with An Integrative Management Program Including EDTA Chelation Therapy, Journal of Integrative Medicine 1997;1:7-12
(9) Exclusive Interview with Gary Gordon, M.D., D.O.: Oral chelation for improved heart function. Life Enhancement 1997 April;32:7-15
(11) Walker M, Gordon G, Douglass WC.: The Chelation Answer. Second Opinion Publishing, Atlanta, 1994
(12) Exclusive Interview with Gary Gordon, M.D., D.O.: Oral chelation for improved heart function. Life Enhancement 1997 April;32:7-15
(13) Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, et al. Dietary intake of linolenic acid and risk of fatal IHD among women. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:890-7
Copyright © 1999-2003 by the Global Institute For Alternative Medicine. All Rights Reserved.
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12 Years to 27
Vita-One= Take 1 pack a day
28 YEARS AND OLDER
Vita-One= Take 1 pack a day
Coral Calcium- 2 morning, and 2 evening
Vita-fiber 1 to 2 times aday
Limu plus for everyone adults 2oz (2X day )
For Circulatory Health ( for California 28 years and up)
Vita Che= 1st. week Take 2 tablets in the morning and 2 tablets in the evening
2nd week Take 3 tablets in the morning and 3 tablets in the evening
3rd week Take 4 tablets in the morning and 4 tablets in the evening
4th wk-16th wk Take 5 tablets in the morning and 5 tablets in the evening
After 16 week Take 3 tablets in the morning and 3 tablets in the evening
For a Maintenance Program *Always take Vita Che after Meals.
Coral Calcium= Take 2 morning & 2 evening.
(*don’t take late in the evening because it gives you a lot of energy)
Omega 111 = Take 1 morning & 1 evening.
Limu plus for everyone adults 2oz X day
Coenzyme Q-10 = Take 1 morning & 1 evening.
Vi-Gest = Take 1 tablet with each meal
Cell Rich= Take 1 a day
Vita-Green Take 1 tablet 3 times a day
Vita-fiber 1 to 2 times aday
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Silent Risk: Women and Heart Disease
Heart disease kills half a million American women each year. So why are women more afraid of breast cancer?
Roderick Robinson 323-563-9153
http://www.thesuccesskit.com code 107426
Roderick Robinson 323-563-9153
http://www.thesuccesskit.com code 107426
The numbers are staggering. Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease, hypertension and stroke, is the number one killer of women, according to the American Heart Association. It kills half a million American women each year. That figure exceeds the next seven causes of death combined. Moreover, women are 15% more likely than men to die of a heart attack. And they are twice as likely to have a second heart attack in the six years following the first.
Yet in a 2000 national heart association survey, only 34% of women correctly identified heart disease as a leading cause of death.
And "only 8% of women saw it as their biggest health threat," says cardiologist Sharonne Hayes, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic Women's Heart Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "There's a disconnect. They know it's a major disease, but they think they're going to die of breast cancer."
Major issues surrounding women's heart health and medical care were brought to light in a survey of 204 women with heart disease reported in the January/February 2003 issue of Women's Health Issues. Hayes, who is Director of Mayo Clinic Women's Heart Clinic in Rochester, Minn., co-authored the report, funded by WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women With Heart Disease. Among the issues women raised were:
• Mental illness resulting from heart disease
• Failure to diagnose heart disease
• Problems related to physicians' attitudes
• Dissatisfaction with medical care, including major hurdles in getting support for recovery
Hayes says that awareness about women's heart health is gradually growing among women and healthcare professionals, but there's much room for improvement.
Mental Health and the Heart
One survey result has already changed how Hayes conducts her practice. She was surprised by the high percentage of women -- 57% -- who said they suffered depression, anxiety or both as a result of heart disease. "Following the survey, our women's heart clinic got a psychologist much more integrated in terms of evaluating patients and giving us cardiologists some insight into mental illness that we're not trained for."
That insight may help explain why only 14% of women made lifestyle changes following a heart attack. "If you're depressed, you're unlikely to be able to make the lifestyle changes that you need to prevent another heart attack," says Hayes. But the knowledge should now help healthcare professionals see and treat mental health problems brought on by heart disease.
Kathy Kastan was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following heart bypass surgery. (This condition is a form of anxiety brought on by a traumatic or life-threatening event.)
In spite of begin a psychotherapist herself, the 44-year-old wife and mother didn't recognize the signs of the condition until the second year after her surgery. "The first year I was in shock," she says. "When you go through trauma like that, you stay numb." She relates the trauma to the surgery itself, pain and humiliation caused by a nurse, and continued poor health after the surgery. "I worked through it, but these experiences change your life."
Missing the Diagnosis
Many women with heart disease say they were misdiagnosed in the early stages. In the survey, only 35% of the women and 68% of their doctors associated their symptoms with heart problems. Yet most of the women surveyed had typical cardiac symptoms, such as chest pain and arm pain or pressure, or shortness of breath. Others reported dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and back pain, which are less common symptoms.
Kastan was a 41-year-old non-smoker and a trim athlete when she began experiencing shortness of breath. She attributed it to asthma, which can be brought on by exercise. But it kept getting worse. On one bike ride, the symptoms became severe. Kastan's husband, a physician, said he doubted she had heart disease, nevertheless suggested she see a cardiologist. The cardiologist proclaimed her healthy. The very next week she collapsed in the mountains. "This time I had classic Hollywood heart attack symptoms with chest pain radiating up into my jaw and down my arm, shortness of breath, pasty pale skin and nausea," she says.
She immediately went to a second cardiologist. "He said to go home and exercise and we'll see what happens. The minute I started running I collapsed again." She finally had the cardiologist put her on the treadmill and raise the level of exertion. "Then he was the one who turned pasty pale. He said I had a blockage" in the arteries. The doctor quickly confirmed his suspicion by inserting a catheter to look into her arteries.
Kastan, who is now president of WomenHeart and on the board of the American Heart Association, says a walking treadmill test hadn't raise her heart rate sufficiently to pick up the blockage. "Dr. Hayes and the heart association are pushing for physicians to supplement a treadmill [stress] test with an EKG or thallium stress test [in women with suspected heart disease]," she says. "Those are more effective than treadmill tests, but none are 100%. The only way to see [a heart blockage] is with cardiac catheterization."
Hayes says health care providers need to become aware that heart disease is the number one killer of women, and to recognize gender differences that occur with heart disease, heart failure and arrhythmias. "When they have a woman in the office who is complaining of symptoms . . . they need to rethink their approach," she tells WebMD. Women need to be evaluated differently than men.
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Roderick Robinson 323-563-9153
http://www.thesuccesskit.com code 107426
RODERICK ROBINSON 323-563-9153
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