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Silent Diseases - Heart Attack and Stroke

Silent Diseases - Heart Attack and Stroke

As we continue our series on detecting silent diseases early, let's discuss heart attack and stroke.  

The majority of patients who die of a sudden heart attack have few or no symptoms.  We are making progress on predicting who will suffer a heart attack or stroke but many of our long held views are being refuted. For instance, a major study of 28,000 women at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital provided conclusive evidence that chronic inflammation of heart and blood vessels is a better predictor of heart attacks than high cholesterol. 

This collective condition referred to as "cardiovascular disease" refers to disorders of the heart as well as the vascular system through which the heart pumps blood.  Since this inflammation can be ongoing and result in no symptoms until extensive damage is done, one of the simplest ways to detect inflammation within the heart and blood vessels is a C-reactive protein blood test.  

We encourage you to talk to your doctor about testing for chronic inflammation.  We also want you to be aware of the signs of heart attack and stroke listed below.

 Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Sudden onset of sharp pain in the arm, shoulder, back, stomach or jaw
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety

Stroke Symptoms

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, which may affect only one side of the body
  • Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden confusion
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Loss of balance or coordination including dizziness or difficulty walking
  • Severe, sudden headache of unknown cause

The best prevention is always to follow a healthy lifestyle including exercise and a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like vegetables, fruits, low fat protein and healthy whole grains. I generally recommend gluten free grains as far too many people now experience inflammation from today's genetically modified wheat.  Not only will this diet reduce inflammation, you may lose the extra weight which can contribute to heart disease.  Avoid heavily processed foods which tend to be high in sodium and result in internal swelling and water retention.

Natural Supplements For a Healthier Heart

To prevent and treat heart disease , we often recommend a variety of supportive supplements, including:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: (fish oil).  Fish oil works through several mechanisms such as improving heart rhythm and preventing clot formation and plaque build-up in arteries.  It may also lower blood pressure and increase plasma levels of good HDL cholesterol. 
  • Aged Garlic Extract:  Many studies have demonstrated positive benefits of aged garlic on blood pressure and blood vessel (endothelial) health.  Several studies have suggested aged garlic can lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides and increase HDL.  It has also been demonstrated to significantly reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. 
  • CoQ10:  CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant in the heart and is involved in the synthesis of energy, but it also has other important functions inside the mitochondria of the cell such as stabilizing membranes.  It protects the "bad" LDL cholesterol from oxidation.  Because of it's role in oxidative stress and energy production, it is useful in preventing damage to the heart during periods of stress.  Age, as well as many prescription medications, deplete CoQ10.  Preventive doses range from 30-100mg per day whereas therapeutic doses are generally over 100mg per day.  
  • Magnesium:  Most people are deficient in Mg, which is utilized in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body.  Additionally, numerous studies have linked Magnesium deficiency to increased risk of coronary heart disease.  This is a very inexpensive, yet critical mineral in overall health, including cardiovascular health.
  • Vitamin-D:  Low vitamin D levels have been associated with metabolic syndrome, obesity, hypertension, and dyslipidemia, which all lead to increased risk of coronary artery disease.
  • Plant Sterols:  Phytosterols have been shown to reduce cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease.  They are similar in structure to cholesterol, causing  decreased gut absorption and enhanced elimination of dietary cholesterol.  
  • Others:  Many other supplements like red yeast rice, carnitine and policosanol among others can play an important role, but we generally reserve these for specific situations.

 Vitopia Recommended Products (Due to the many calls and emails asking for specific product recommendations available in the Vitopia store, we have included the recommendations at the end of this article).

  • Orthomega 820 by Ortho-Molecular (Omega-3)
  • Kyolic Reserve (Aged Garlic)
  • CoQ10 by Ortho-Molecular, Pure Encapsulations or Metagenics are all good products.
  • Magnesium glycinate by Pure Encapsulations
  • Vitamin-D by various manufacturers.  Dosage should be based on blood levels.
  • Foresterol by Designs for Health or Plant Sterols from Ortho-Molecular.


1.  Is C-reactive protein specific for vascular disease in women. Ann Intern Med. 2002 Apr 2:136(7):529-33).

2.  Jacobson TA. Secondary prevention of coronary artery disease with omega-3 fatty acids. Am J Cardiol. 2006;98(4A):61i-70i.

3.  Katan MB, Grundy S, Jones P, Law M, Miettinen T, Paoletti R. Efficacy and safety of plant stannous and sterols in the management of blood cholesterol levels.  Mayo Clin Proc. 2003;78(8):965-78.

4.  Carter B. Coenzyme Q`0 and cardiovascular disease: a review. J Cardiovase Nurse. 2002;16(4):9-20.

5.  Lau BH. Suppression of LDL oxidation by garlic compounds is a possible mechanism of cardiovascular health benefit. J Nutr. 2006;136(3 Supplements):765S-68S.

6.  Magnesium and Cardiovascular disease:  A Review of Epidemilogical Evidence.  Journal of Clinical and Basic Cardiology 2002;5(1)61-66

7.  Vitamin D Plays an Important Role in Cardiac Disease.  Journal of the Saudi Heart Association. Volume 27, Issue 4. Oct 2015 p264-271.

8.  Deficiency of Magnesium and Pyridoxine as a Risk Factor for Coronary Heart Disease.  Kardiologiia. 2016 Oct;56(10):55-62.

9.  Serum Magnesium and the Risk of Death From Coronary Heart Disease and Sudden Cardiac Death.  J Am Heart Assoc. 2016 Jan 22;5(1).


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