~Cardiovascular Disease - Simplified Analysis

~Cardiovascular Disease - Simplified Analysis
Reprinted with permission of Life Extension®.

Cardiovascular disease is rarely caused by a single frailty. Rather, it is a multifaceted failure that includes physical, psychological, and genetic weaknesses. Since cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer in Western societies, there is more published scientific information about its prevention and treatment than exists for other diseases. Overlooking just one risk factor, such as elevated levels of C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, or homocysteine, could lead to the development or worsening of the heart and/or vascular disease.

At least 68 million people in the United States suffer from some form of heart disease, with an estimated 1.1 million Americans annually experiencing an acute myocardial infarction (MI or heart attack). According to current statistics released from the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease accounts for about 950,000 deaths annually (about 41% of total mortality from all causes); coronary heart disease accounts for 460,000 of those deaths. In fact, one person dies every 33 seconds from heart disease, culminating in about 2600 deaths every single day. Additionally, the scope of this insidious health problem is worldwide. Globally, cardiovascular disease accounts for almost 50% of all deaths (GSDL 2002).


Most tissues and organs are equipped to deal with injury more efficiently than the heart. For example, the mending of broken bones and renewal of injured skin is so mundane they are taken for granted. Until recently, it was thought that myocytes (muscle cells) of the adult heart were incapable of self-renewal; once damaged, always damaged, without hope of regeneration. Reports published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicate this may not be the case (Beltrami et al. 2001).

Researchers looked at heart muscle cells from the hearts of 13 deceased patients, 4-12 days after their heart attack. These findings were compared to the hearts of 10 patients who had not died of cardiovascular disease. Samples of heart tissue were taken from the area near the site of the heart attack and from a site more distant from the damage. Scientists found that the number of myocytes multiplying in diseased hearts was 70 times higher in the border zone and 24 times higher in the remote area. The presence of cell division in the nondiseased portion of the heart suggests a continuous turnover of cells during the lifespan of the organism. It is now thought that cardiac muscle cells can reproduce, advancing the premise that this process may be a component of the growth reserve of the human heart. The ramifications of this research allow for the prospect of replacing damaged myocardium by stimulating the heart's own repair capacity.

The focus of current study is to identify the premature stem cells that give rise to multiplying myocytes, encouraging growth and repair in damaged areas. The challenge will be to persuade these cells to move to regions of tissue damage to facilitate repair and reduce heart failure. While these reports raise hopes for employing the body's capacity for self-renewal, the excitement must be tempered by the scope of the obstacles. While the hurdles to overcome are sizable, current studies have advanced understanding by challenging dogma. Demonstrating that cardiac muscles are capable of regeneration opens up remarkable pathways for healing an ailing heart (Mercola 2001a).

A Simplified Daily Program for Cardiac Health

You can take each of the nutrients listed below separately if you choose to. This will involve spending a lot of time and money. Most people find it more convenient to take specially designed formulas that provide most of the recommended cardiovascular-protecting nutrients. Here is a brief description of six formulas that provide optimal potencies of most of the nutrients described:

Life Extension Mix

This formula contains 89 different ingredients including the following nutrients that have been shown to benefit cardiovascular health:

Vitamin A Beta Carotene Alpha carotene Lycopene Lutein Vitamin C Vitamin E Vitamin B1 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin D Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) Folic Acid Taurine Niacin Chromium Magnesium Potassium Selenium Zinc

Super Life Extension Booster

This softgel oil capsule provides many important nutrients, including the following that have been shown beneficial in protecting cardiovascular health:

Vitamin K Ginkgo biloba extract Tocotrienols Gamma tocopherol Lutein Lycopene Folic acid Vitamin B12 Selenium


These capsules contain potent anti-aging nutrients, including the following that have demonstrated benefit in preventing and treating cardiovascular disease:

Alpha Lipoic acid Acetyl-L-Carnitine Carnosine


Provides optimal potencies of essential fatty acids from fish oil (DHA and EPA) plus a potent dose of GLA from borage oil.

Super CoQ10

Provides high potency coenzyme Q10 in an emulsified oil base along with added tocotrienols.


The (+) in the margin indicates the supplement has preventive as well as therapeutic qualities. Individuals classed as heart healthy may profit most from supplements bearing the (+) code.

+ Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant and antidiabetic; is beneficial in congestive heart failure and stroke prevention, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension; and inhibits protein glycation. A suggested therapeutic dosage is 500-1000 mg daily. A preventive dose is 250-500 mg a day.

Angelica (A. archangelica) is an antianginal, anti-inflammatory, vasodilator, calcium antagonist, ACE inhibitor, and diuretic; dosage, 15-30 drops 1-3 times a day. (See Angelica in the Therapeutic section for an explanation regarding milligrams per drop.)

L-arginine dilates blood vessels; reduces the atherogenesity of atherogenic foods; and mimics the actions of nitroglycerine; suggested dose, 1800 mg of L-arginine 3 times a day or 4500 mg before bedtime.

Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) lowers total serum cholesterol and triglycerides; recommended dose, 1 capsule 3 times a day, containing 300 mg of artichoke standardized to contain 13-18% caffeoylquinic acid.

+ Aspirin reduces fibrinogen levels, platelet aggregation, C-reactive protein (CRP), and inflammatory conditions. Low dose aspirin is usually begun at about 50 years of age, according to the American College of Chest Physicians, if no physical condition precludes its usage; suggested dosage, 1 low dose tablet (81 mg a day with a heavy meal). Higher doses may be required to impact newer risk factors such as CRP.

Bromelain is anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, and antianginal. It reduces fibrinogen levels and atrial fibrillation, lessens risk of blood clots, and is particularly beneficial to smokers. Suggested dosage is 1/8 to 1/4 tsp taken between meals to relieve inflammation.

Bugleweed has diuretic and digitalis-like properties; use 30-40 drops in a little water, 2-4 times a day. (See Angelica in the Therapeutic section for an explanation of milligrams per drop.)

+ Calcium reduces blood pressure, acts as an antiarrhythmic, reduces iron overload, and strengthens the bone around the gingival; preventive and therapeutic doses, 1 gram or more of elemental calcium a day. Factor amount of calcium obtained from foodstuffs into the amount required through supplementation.

+ L-carnitine is an energizer and hypolipidemic, aids weight loss, improves circulation, and is beneficial in angina and diabetic management. Most clinical trials use 1500-3000 mg daily; preventive dosage, 600-1500 mg a day.

+ Carnosine acts as an antioxidant and reduces glycation and possibly the likelihood of stroke damage; suggested dosage, 1000-1500 mg a day. (Not recommended during pregnancy or lactation.)

Chondroitin sulfate is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and inhibits LDL oxidation; suggested daily dose, one to three 400-mg tablets.

+ Chromium, 300-400 mcg a day in divided doses, modulates blood glucose levels; decreases cholesterol; and is helpful in weight management; preventive dosage, 200 mcg a day.

+ Coenzyme Q10 reduces angina attacks, arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, periodontal disease, and heart valve irregularities; lowers blood pressure; is protective to smokers; and supplies energy to the heart; suggested dosage, 30-400 mg a day, depending upon the amount of cardiac support required. (Higher doses require physician supervision.)

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) aids in weight loss and utilization of beneficial fats; reduces cholesterol and triglycerides; increases insulin sensitivity; and has antioxidant activity; suggested dosage, three 1000-mg capsules taken early in the day.

Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory and hypocholesterolemic; offers protection to smokers; and inhibits platelet aggregation; recommended dosage, 900 mg 1-2 times daily.

+ DHEA suppresses the activity of proinflammatory cytokines; inhibits inflammation; and is helpful in lipid management; suggested dosage, 15-75 mg a day, taken early in the day (50 mg a day is a typical dose). Read about DHEA in the Therapeutic section for caveats.

+ Essential fatty acids modulate blood lipids and body weight; improve heart function; lessen risk of restenosis and strokes; inhibit platelet clumping; have hypotensive and anti-inflammatory activity; reduce fibrinogen, homocysteine, and C-reactive protein levels; and improve insulin sensitivity. Perilla oil, 1000-mg capsules, provides 550-620 mg of alpha-linolenic acid, a precursor to EPA and DHA. Use 6 capsules a day. Blends of fish oils are available, supplying varying amounts of EPA and DHA. Borage oil is a source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). A supplement called Super GLA/DHA provides high concentrations of GLA from borage oil, along with DHA and EPA from fish oil extract.

Fiber assists in weight management and is a hypolipidemic and antidiabetic. Begin with 1 tsp until the system adjusts to the new material; increase to 1 tsp 3 times a day. It is essential to drink additional water when fiber is added to the diet.

+ Garlic acts as a hypotensive; decreases fibrinogen; protects against LDL oxidation and arterial wall damage; inhibits platelet aggregation; thins the blood; modestly lowers blood glucose levels; and reduces damage associated with iron overload and the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias. Dosage suggestions are 1-2 Kyolic caplets (1000 mg) twice daily with meals or 2-8 capsules of Pure-Gar Caps (900 mg) daily with food.

Ginger reduces cholesterol and risk of a blood clot and has anti-inflammatory, vasodilating, ACE inhibiting, and calcium antagonistic properties; suggested dosage, one to two 300-mg capsules, 1-3 times a day.

+ Ginkgo biloba improves circulation and memory; reduces platelet aggregation, arrhythmias, and fibrinogen levels; has antioxidant activity; prevents capillary fragility; lessens angina attacks, dyspnea, and intermittent claudication; and decreases the area in the brain plundered by a stroke; suggested dosage, 120 mg a day (preventive dose) and 120-240 mg daily (therapeutic dose). Note: Some clinicians routinely prescribe ginkgo for patients ages 50 and older.

Grapefruit pectin is an effective hypocholesterolemic. If using the powder, begin with less than 1 scoop a day, gradually increasing to 2-3 scoops. If using tablets, use one 1000-mg tablet a day with meals.

+ Green tea has antithrombotic, antioxidant, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory, ACE inhibiting, calcium and iron antagonistic, diuretic, and beta-adrenergic receptor blocking properties. Drink several cups a day or use two to four 300-mg capsules a day. Each capsule should provide 95% active polyphenols.

Gugulipid lowers cholesterol and triglycerides; regresses plaque formation; opposes platelet aggregation; and has fibrinolytic activity; suggested dosage, 500 mg 3 times a day.

Hawthorn berry is an antioxidant, antihypertensive, diuretic, and an aid to weight loss; reduces hypoxia and premature ventricular contractions; lowers cholesterol; is beneficial in congestive heart failure; acts as a vasodilator, ACE inhibitor, and calcium antagonist; and increases exercise tolerance; daily dosages, 250-900 mg a day.

+ The following daily supplements (used alone or in combination) are recommended for lowering homocysteine levels: 500-9000 mg of TMG; 800-5000 mcg of folic acid; 1000-3000 mcg of vitamin B12; 250-3000 mg of choline; 250-1000 mg of inositol; 30-90 mg of zinc; 200-800 mg of SAMe; and 100-500 mg of B6. (Use SAMe with other cofactors listed.)

+ Magnesium reduces blood pressure; acts as a calcium antagonist and antiarrhythmic; blocks the sympathetic nervous system; and is beneficial in mitral valve prolapse. Use up to 1500 mg in divided doses throughout the day; preventive dose, about 400 mg elemental magnesium a day.

Niacin lowers Lp(a) and fibrinogen and normalizes cholesterol levels; 1-3 grams of niacin a day may be needed to lower cholesterol, a dose that must be closely monitored. Lower doses of niacin may be effective if taken in union with chromium. If high dose niacin is to be used, liver function tests should be performed regularly.

Olive leaf extract is hypotensive and antidiabetic; is helpful in some types of arrhythmias; and is protective against LDL oxidation. Use one to two 500-mg capsules 3 times a day, with meals.

Administering 300 mg of pantethine 3 times a day typically results in a significant improvement in blood lipids.

Policosanol is hypocholesterolemic; protects LDL cholesterol against oxidation; inhibits thromboxane and the proliferation of vascular cells; discourages blood clot formation; has antiplatelet aggregating activity; and increases exercise tolerance; suggested dose, some individuals will need only 5-10 mg to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol; others will require 20 mg a day.

Polyenylphosphatidylcholine (PPC) increases levels of beneficial HDL2b, reduces angina attacks, improves exercise tolerance, lowers undesirable blood lipids, and improves apoB/apoA-1 ratio. Take two 900-mg capsules daily.

+ Potassium reduces blood pressure and maintains fluid balance. (The estimated safe and adequate daily dietary intake of potassium, as set by the Committee on Recommended Daily Allowances, is 1.9 grams to 5.6 grams per day.) Many foods richly supply potassium; these sources should be relied upon to meet nutritional needs (when possible). (See the Therapeutic Section for a list of dietary sources plus additional dosing instructions and caveats.)

+ Proanthocyanidins are antioxidants and ACE and beta-adrenergic receptor inhibitors; protect endothelium against white blood cell adherence; reduce blood cholesterol and existing cholesterol deposits; and are beneficial to smokers; the daily dose, 100 mg from grape seed, is considered a preventive dose; 150-300 mg is a therapeutic dose.

+ Selenium is protective against cardiomyopathy and is beneficial in ventricular tachycardia, hyperlipidemia, congestive heart failure, and diabetes; dosage, 200-300 mcg a day; preventive dose, 200 mcg a day.

Taurine is hypotensive; arouses the parasympathetic nervous system; is beneficial in congestive heart failure and arrhythmias; and has blood thinning and diuretic properties; suggested dosage, 1500-4000 mg in divided dosages daily.

Testosterone modulates cholesterol; dilates blood vessels; improves circulation; lessens angina attacks; and reduces blood pressure. The objective is to restore testosterone level to that of a healthy 21-year-old.

+ Thiamine (vitamin B1) reduces cardiac arrhythmias, palpitations, congestive heart failure, and elevated venous pressure. Some patients may realize benefit from 200-250 mg of thiamine a day; refractory cardiac arrhythmias may require 500-1000 mg a day.

+ Tocotrienols inhibit platelet-clumping; reduce cholesterol; and have antioxidant activity. A suggested daily dosage is 100 IU mixed tocopherols and 100 IU tocotrienols if the person is healthy, young, and without a family history of heart disease, and 200 IU of mixed tocopherols and 200 IU of tocotrienols for young adults with some cardiac risk factors or healthy people (50 years of age) without risk factors. 400 IU of mixed tocopherols and 400 IU of tocotrienols for people who have a personal or family history of cardiac disease. This dosage is appropriate for senior subjects and severely stressed or poorly nourished individuals.

Beta-carotene (25,000 to 50,000 IU) may assist in modulating fibrinogen levels. Beta-carotene is widely available in 25,000 IU strengths.

+ Vitamin C strengthens and dilates blood vessels; promotes gingival healing; lowers blood pressure; reduces fibrinogen, Lp(a), C-reactive protein, and atheromatous plaque; lessens damage inflicted by smoking; and has diuretic activity; suggested preventive and therapeutic dose, 6 grams daily, in divided dosages.

+ Vitamin D appears to lower risk of heart attack in older women; suggested dosage, 400 IU a day; if housebound, use 800 IU a day.

+ Vitamin E assists in preventing plaque formation; protects LDL from oxidation; strengthens blood vessels; prevents blood viscosity; is beneficial in atrial and ventricular fibrillation; reduces C-reactive protein; and is considered an antidiabetic nutrient; suggested preventive and therapeutic dosage, 400-1200 IU of dry powder vitamin E daily.

+ Vitamin K prevents calcium from tying up in arteries and reduces the inflammatory process and risk of a blood clot; suggested daily dose, 10 mg.

+ Zinc, 30-60 mg a day, may increase testosterone levels and is beneficial to diabetics and those who are overweight. Because high doses of zinc can increase blood glucose levels, prediabetics and diabetics should use no more than 35 mg a day.

To see a list of all supplements, please check our Index or use our Search feature.

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