Vail Natural Path: Pay attention to the disease that precedes heart attacks |

Vail Natural Path: Pay attention to the disease that precedes heart attacks

Dr. Eliza Klearman
Vail, CO Colorado

When you think of the classic heart attack, you imagine a man who grabs his left arm and complains of pain in his chest. Unfortunately, this is the correct picture of a heart attack for only half of our population: the male half.

Women also have heart attacks, but the presentation is so different from what we assume are the “classic” symptoms of heart attack that they often get missed, even in the emergency room. Most women present not with pain in the chest but rather with pain in the upper back or neck. They may complain of severe indigestion, shortness of breath, or palpitations. Some women experience fatigue as their only symptom of a heart attack.

Because women experience vague symptoms when having a heart attack, treatment is likely to be delayed. Instead of being rushed into the ER, many women, with their fatigue and sore necks, are given an over-the-counter pain reliever and sent to wait in the waiting area to be seen by a doctor. This delay in treatment may account for the reason that 39 percent of women do not survive their first heart attack; and 38 percent die within one year (compared to 25 percent of men). This makes early recognition of the symptoms of a heart attack paramount.

Even more significantly, we should pay attention to the heart disease which precedes the attack. Coronary artery disease is the precursor to a heart attack. This is a chronic disease in which the arteries of the heart gradually become thick and narrow, blocking the smooth flow of blood to the heart. Since the symptoms of heart attack and coronary artery disease are less reliable in women, the screening recommendations need to change.

Cardiovascular disease is, in essence, a disease caused by excessive inflammation. In the case of heart disease, this inflammation is primarily in the heart, so screening must look at those markers of inflammation most specific to the heart. While testing cholesterol does shed some light on heart disease, scientists have found other, better markers of inflammation and heart disease. Lipoprotein (a), apolipoprteins A-1 and B-100, hsCRP, and hemoglobin A1c, along with family history, add valuable information to the diagnostic picture. These markers increase the accuracy of predicting a heart attack or other cardiovascular event, such as a stroke, in both women and men.

Knowing that you have the inflammatory markers for inflammation in the heart can greatly reduce your chance of ever suffering from a cardiac event. Achieving proper weight and cardiovascular fitness is an absolute necessity.

According to the World Health Association, 80 percent of heart disease can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle, diet and exercise. Obviously, this is the key to living not just without heart disease, but without a myriad of other diseases and symptoms that plague our nation and the rest of the world.

Additionally, there are many studies indicating the use of vitamins, herbal medicines, and nutritional supplements in the prevention and treatment of heart disease.

Supplements such as fish oil work well to reduce inflammation, therefore providing an excellent remedy to reverse the heart disease. Recent research shows that omega 3 fatty acids reduce the risk of sudden death from heart attack by 38-40 percent. Women who regularly consume phytoestrogens in the form of soy isoflavones have a lower incidence of heart disease. CoQ10 has gained notoriety for helping stave off the deficiency caused by the use of statin drugs and for providing energy for the heart to pump more efficiently. Plant sterols and stanols are now endorsed by the United States National Cholesterol Education Program as an essential feature of the lifestyle changes necessary for the treatment of high cholesterol. Garlic has been used traditionally to lower blood pressure, and studies show that regular consumption of Green Tea lowers the incidence of both fatal and non-fatal heart attacks.

These are just a few examples of well researched natural therapeutics for heart disease prevention and treatment. The fact of the matter is that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the United States yet there are many things you can do to both prevent it and reverse it. With therapeutic lifestyle changes and professionally recommended natural medicines you can live disease-free and healthy for years to come.

Dr. Eliza Klearman is a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist practicing in Eagle. For more information, call 328-5678 or e-mail Visit her at

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