heart disease

  1. Heartache and Heart Attacks

    Heartache and Heart Attacks

    In today's pill-for-everything world, doctors and patients alike seem to be losing sight of the connection between emotional well-being and health. Nowadays, prescription drugs are relied upon to fill emotional voids instead of friends, lovers, spouses, and family members Either that, or "therapy," which is in many cases nothing more than simply paying someone to give the kind of attention and emotional involvement all humans crave - and that we need in order to survive. But this, like medication, is a poor substitute for good old-fashioned love and friendship.

    I've written about this kind of thing before (Daily Dose, 5/25/04, 3/19/04 and others), usually from a perspective of how fulfilling social interactions and loving relationships can have a positive affect on the heart - especially among men. According to past studies I've referenced, healthy emotional involvement can contribute to a 50% decrease in heart disease risk for men (this is more effective than any prescription drug has proven to be, by the way), as well as halving the likelihood of second heart attacks among both sexes.

    But I digress

    My main point is that health, especially of the heart, is profoundly affected by emotion. And a new study shows that severe emotional trauma can cause temporary symptoms that are nearly identical to a heart attack, including shortness of breath, chest pains, and fluid in the lungs. These effects have been known to last several days, but resolve fully over time. Further, these symptoms are often assumed to be heart attacks, and many times no doubt lead to NEEDLESS HEART SURGERY.

    The research, conducted by Johns Hopkins University physicians and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, catalogued for the first time this condition - which many doctors have known about, but have never officially documented. Differing from acute stress cardiomyopathy (actual heart attack or sudden death triggered by emotional trauma) only in the sense that it is not lethal or permanently damaging to the heart, the newly named Broken Heart Syndrome causes a surge in adrenaline and stress hormones that mimic heart attacks, possibly by constricting blood vessels in the heart.

    The study focused on 19 emergency department patients who suffered major emotional trauma, including the death of a spouse or immediate family member, armed robbery, a car wreck, a court appearance, or a surprise party. Their MRI scans revealed no signs of actual heart attack, yet the subjects experienced very real, measurable symptoms of cardiac distress. It just goes to show how closely linked our minds and hearts really are.

    And in case you still don't believe in things like dying of a broken heart

    The disease everyone knows about but the doctors

    I'm not much for psychobabble, but every once in a while, the shrinks get one right. Case in point: A contingent of European psychologists are attempting to revive one of the oldest diagnoses in history: Lovesickness.

    Though known to most everyone - including just about every playwright and novelist in history - by its symptoms, "lovesickness" nevertheless enjoys no formal acceptance in the medical literature of the day. Never mind that according to a recent BBC article, the condition was officially recognized as a perfectly diagnosable state of mind for thousands of years before the Enlightenment.

    Proclaiming that one CAN die of a broken heart (especially in cases of unrequited love), these head-doctors are urging heart doctors to take more seriously the symptoms of lovesickness: Despair, insomnia, tearfulness, depression, and physical exhaustion. Apparently, it can kill those who succumb to it - and not just by way of suicide (although that's quite common with the lovelorn, the data shows).

    It's a well-known medical phenomenon (ask any insurance actuary) that when one partner in a long-time married couple dies, the other often follows into the great beyond a short time later - even if there are no life-threatening health problems present. Laymen and playwrights call it "losing the will to live."

    But MDs don't call it much of anything - they can't prescribe a drug for it, so it must not exist

  2. Big News in the Diet Wars

    Big News in the Diet Wars

    The last word on low-fat diets: DENIED!

    The mother of all mainstream smack-downs

    Whoa, Nelly - big news in the diet wars (unless you've been a reader of mine - then you've known it all along), as reported in no less than the New York Times

    It turns out that the low-fat diet the so-called "experts" have been touting for decades has NO statistically significant affect on rates of heart disease, strokes or various common cancers, a new large-scale study has revealed.

    Now, this isn't just some flimsy University study of 500 participants or anything like that, it's apparently one of the biggest and most comprehensive health studies ever conducted. Executed at a price of $415 million in tax dollars, the National Institutes of Health affiliated research involved approximately 49,000 female subjects aged 50 to 79 divided into two groups: Those that consumed 25-29% of their calories from fat, and those that derived 35-37% of their daily calories from dietary lipids. The two groups consumed roughly the same amount of calories each day.

    The results were these:

    • No statistically significant decrease in heart attack rates in the low-fat group
    • No statistically significant decrease in the number of strokes among low-fat dieters
    • No statistically relevant reduction in breast cancer rates among the low-fat eaters
    • No statistically significant decrease in the number of colon cancer cases in the low-fat group
    • Though LDL levels were measurably higher among the higher-fat diet group, that increase didn't translate into ANY noticeable increase in their heart disease risk

    Hmmm. Now where have we heard all of this before, I wonder? The feds could've just asked me and saved the $415 million - I've been saying this stuff for decades!

    As great as it is to see this major study finally validate what I've known for years, it's still funny to see the reaction among the smarmy, do-gooder pointy-heads of modern medicine. The Times article gives ink to several of these, including one left-coast doctor who claims the study didn't allow the low-fat approach enough time to work properly

    To this quack-pot, I say: If a dietary approach ain't workin' in 8 years - it just ain't workin! Keep reading

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    Now, as significant and groundbreaking as this massive study is, have no illusion - it's still only the first salvo of a major war. NOBODY debunks the medical establishment in this country and gets away with it, not even the federal government that largely sets the mainstream agenda!

    I'm sure that over the next few months (or years), the fat-Nazis will dig into their trenches and start a major PR war against this study's results. They'll say the study wasn't long enough. They'll say the study groups weren't separated by an extreme enough difference in dietary fat levels. They'll say the results would be a lot different if men were involved (they wouldn't - when it comes to heart disease, stroke and cancer risks, what's good for the goose is good for the gander)

    But it'll all be smoke and mirrors. These are the real numbers, bought and paid for by your own dollars. Just because rank and file doctors, vegetarian "health organizations," and fad-diet purveyors will rail against this study doesn't make them right.

    Interestingly, this isn't the first time major research has flown in the face of the mainstream's fat-phobia. A few years back, in the midst of the high-fiber craze (also a low-fat diet, mind you), some large-scale studies showed that the "movement" was only good for bowel regularity - not for preventing colon cancer, a widely held opinion.

    Also interesting is this: The same research body that concluded what you've just read (the Women's Health Initiative of the National Institutes of Health) also debunked through study another mainstream medical myth - they were the ones who sounded the alarm about hormone replacement therapy possibly having more risks than benefits

    Hat's off to 'em, again.

    From a gander who's goosed when the mainstream gets noosed,

    William Campbell Douglass II, MD

  3. Recent Increase in Women with Heart Disease

    You'd have to be under a rock to be unaware of the dramatic recent increase in heart disease - especially among women.
  4. Is there a link between elevated blood pressure and the incidence of heart disease?

    Evidence showing a conclusive linear link between elevated blood pressure and the incidence of heart disease is almost non-existent.
  5. No heart failure epidemic

    You see a lot written about heart failure these days. It's been called "an emerging epidemic in the Medicare population."This is due to a burgeoning elderly population that will, naturally, increase the number of deaths each year.

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