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  • How To Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death: Cholesterol Pills Won’t Do

    January 27, 2015: by Bill Sardi

    You’ll have to save your own life from sudden-death heart attacks; cholesterol-lowering drugs don’t work for this most common type of heart seizure.

    If you are rushed for time and don’t have a few minutes to spend reading the entire text of this short report, in a nutshell, if you are a full-grown adult over age 30 and you have a family history of heart disease, and you are a smoker [Journal American College Cardiology 1985], or you drink too much alcohol [American Heart Journal 1992], and you carry a lot of belly fat [Heart Feb 1, 2015], you should supplement your diet with magnesium and omega-3 fish oil and take red wine pills (sans alcohol) in order to avert a drop-dead heart attack.

    Don’t rely upon your cardiologist to tell you all this.  This is well documented in the medical literature.  You will have to take action yourself if you are going to save your life.  The cardiologist’s prescription pad is empty in regard to sudden unexpected mortal heart attacks.

    However, more alarming is that fact that most sudden-death heart attacks occur among people with no known risk factors.  In over half of the cases sudden cardiac arrest occurs without prior symptoms. [Cleveland Clinic]  The majority of sudden-death heart attacks occur in lower-risk populations! [Medscape]

    Modern medicine distracts with the false notion that the availability of cardiac defibrillators will meaningfully save lives, but very few people (3-6%) survive these “electrical malfunction” heart attacks that throw the heart’s main blood pumping chambers into a mortal spasm.  Few patients with this type of heart attack survive it even in the hospital where resuscitative medicines and equipment are readily available.

    Sudden-death hearts attacks, defined as death within 1-hour of a sudden heart seizure, kills 325,000 Americans a year, or 890 every day or 37 people ever hour.  This type of heart attack represents more than half of all heart disease deaths.  Of the 719,402 cardiac deaths in 1998, 74% were of the sudden-death variety.  [Circulation Oct 30, 2001]

    Nine out of ten individuals who experience these “electrical storm” heart seizures die.  The total number of people who succumb to these unexpected sudden-death heart attacks is roughly equivalent to the number of people who die from breast cancer, cervical cancer, diabetes and house fires combined. [Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation]

    Despite the major health focus on reduction of circulating levels of cholesterol, the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs has little effect in preventing them. [European Heart Journal 2012] Statin cholesterol-lowering drugs may only be useful for slowing the progression of heart failure, not heart attacks themselves. [Nature Reviews Cardiology May 2010]

    In fact, cholesterol-lowering drugs are not deemed to be a very effective way of reducing cardiac and overall mortality in the general population.  [Scandinavian Cardiovascular Journal Aug 2008]

    Sudden-death heart attacks often occur while exercising and sweating away important electrolyte minerals, particularly magnesium.  According to a study by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, there is one SCA death per 22,903 athlete participant years among students 17-24 years of age participating in NCAA sports. [Circulation April 19, 2011]

    Technically sudden cardiac arrest is not a heart attack, known in medical lingo as a myocardial infarction, where an artery that carries oxygenated blood to heart muscle becomes blocked due to clots, constriction or collapse of the artery wall itself.  A heart attack produces classic symptoms of sweating, chest pain (angina), shortness of breath and dizziness.  Cardiac arrest is where the pumping chambers of the heart flutter or fibrillate.  A normal heart rhythm must be re-started to survive this type of event.

    While the numbers of sudden-mortal heart attacks are in the hundreds of thousands, fortunately the overall incidence is only 1/10th of one-percent per year.

    Any population-wide preventive measure would have to be applied to 1000 people to prevent one sudden cardiac death.

    The age-adjusted incidence of out-of hospital cardiac arrest per 10,000 adults is 10.1 among blacks, 6.5 among Hispanics, and 5.8 among Caucasians.  [Circulation 2012]

    While this type of mortal heart attack occurs among 30-40 year olds, progressive aging increases the risk dramatically from males from about 100 per 100,000 population at age 50 to 800 per 100,000 at age 75. [New England Journal Medicine Aug 26,1993]

    The medical literature strongly points to dietary supplements rather than prescription drugs like cholesterol-lowering medications.  Any individual fearful of a heart seizure so sudden and severe that there is no chance of survival should be using mineral, fish oil and red wine resveratrol supplements on a daily basis.

    Magnesium and sudden cardiac death

    The scientific evidence that substantiates the use of magnesium supplements is plentiful and strong.  [American Heart Journal Aug 1992; Lancet April 2, 1994; American Journal Clinical Nutrition Feb 2011]

    The risk of death from a sudden heart muscle spasm is reduced by 40% or more with maintenance of adequate magnesium levels. [American Heart Journal Sept 2010]  Low blood magnesium levels are common in human populations and repletion can be accomplished by consumption of 300-600 mg of oral magnesium daily.  [Mineral Electrolyte Metabolism 1993]

    Note: magnesium oxide is the most affordable magnesium supplement but only 4% of this type of magnesium is absorbed. [Magnesium Research 2001]

    Note #2: low vitamin D levels may adversely affect magnesium blood levels. [International Journal Preventive Medicine Nov 2014]

    Note #3: vitamin B6 is required for proper magnesium accumulation in cells. [Magnesium Research June 1990]

    A striking problem is that most Americans do not meet the Recommended Daily Allowance for magnesium.  Despite these facts, magnesium supplementation is not a major health practice promoted by public health authorities.

    Omega-3 fish oil and sudden cardiac death

    There is also strong evidence that fish oil from oily fish or dietary supplements avert sudden-death heart attacks.  As far back as 1989 the medical literature advised two servings of oily fish per week that could reduce the risk for sudden death from a heart muscle seizure by 29%. [Lancet Sept 30, 1989]  However the cardiac and medical communities have paid little attention to this study despite the fact 50-60% of sudden cardiac deaths are attributed to the type of heart muscle seizure reduced by omega-3 fish oil.

    A decade later another study suggested 850 milligrams of fish oil a day reduces sudden cardiac death by 45%. [Lancet 1999]  Still, modern cardiology kept beating a drum for cholesterol-lowering pills.

    It is suggested that individuals concerned about sudden-death heart attacks supplement their diet with 600 milligrams of fish oil (EPA+DHA) per day “to be prudent.” [Circulation 2003]

    Resveratrol and sudden cardiac death

    Modest alcohol consumption (2-6 drinks per week) is reported to produce a 60-79% reduction in risk for sudden cardiac death. [Circulation Aug 31, 1999] Modest wine drinking strengthens the heart protective effects of fish oil. [Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Dec 2010]

    While red wine resveratrol (pronounced rez-vair-ah-trol) pills have not been studied in regard to the human incidence of sudden cardiac death, in animal studies where intentional heart attacks were induced, resveratrol reduced that area of scarring after a heart attack from 35% to 24% (32% relative reduction) while combination of resveratrol with other small molecules found in wine further reduced scarring of heart muscle down to 20% (43% relative reduction).  [ April 30, 2011]

    Note: modest doses of resveratrol (100-350 milligrams) produce the best effect.  Excessively high doses may be counterproductive. [ March 31, 2009]

    Special note: alcohol depletes magnesium [Alcohol Clinical Experimental Research Dec 1986] so the prudent way to obtain the heart protective effects of wine is with an alcohol-free red wine (resveratrol) pill.  © 2015 Bill Sardi,  Bill Sardi has a commercial interest in dietary supplements.

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