Thomas Barnard, writer


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Getting to the Heart of Heart Disease




The Cause of Heart Disease


        Researchers Brown & Goldstein, who figured out how LDL (low density lipoproteins) binds to the arteries (and won a Nobel for their work) stated in at the beginning of an article that cardiovascular disease is caused by lesions in the arteries.  Lesions were found in places where there was a lot of pressure – near the heart for example.

        The lesions in the arteries then caused a whole cascade of attempts by the body to fill in the potholes in the arteries.  The principal culprit being a form of LDL cholesterol called lipoprotein(a).  But other substances like fibrogen and foam cells?

        Linus Pauling claimed to have the solution to the breakdown in the blood vessels:  Vitamin C.  It is a logical deduction because Vitamin C is important in collagen production which binds the blood vessels.  Conversely, if Vitamin C is crucial in making strong blood vessels, what happens if there is a lack of it?1

        Scurvy, of course.  What happens in scurvy?  In half of all deaths by scurvy, blood vessels breakdown and people die from internal bleeding (in the other half, die from opportunistic diseases as a result of the lack of Vitamin C to activate the immune system). 

        Pauling backs up his claim about Vitamin C with evidence that those who have taken more Vitamin C have less heart disease…

        Further, he points to the animal kingdom.  Most animals make their own Vitamin C, either in the liver or kidneys.  Only a few do not make their own vitamin C:  The rhesus monkey, the Formosan long tail monkey, brown capuchin monkey, the guinea pig, the Indian fruit-eating bat, the red-vented bulbul, which is an Indian bird, and some other Indian birds.

Pauling speculates that we lost this ability when we were living in a southern climate where (a) there are more vitamin C rich foods, and (b) there is less need for it than in the northern climates.


The Body’s System for Dealing with Cholesterol

        The body makes about 4,000 mg of cholesterol in the liver.  Evidently, LDL (low density lipoproteins) carry it throughout the body, and HDL (high density lipoproteins) carries it back to the liver.

        From the liver, cholesterol is passed from the body through the gall bladder via the bile acids into the small intestines.  If there is something it can latch on to, such as soluble fiber, it will pass out of the body; otherwise, it may be absorbed in the lower intestine and passed back to the liver for processing again.

        Part of the body’s mechanism for balancing cholesterol are the statins, which scientists found in the liver.  They can slow production of cholesterol, and hence bring the numbers down substantially.

        Statins are proteins found in the liver, where scientists found a number of such proteins which reduce the production of LDL cholesterol.  Niacin, is another part of this mechanism.  Because the work is done in the liver, that is why doctors want to keep tab on liver enzymes.

        HDL has statistically been linked with lower rates of heart disease; however, the interesting thing was that researchers found a population in Italy where HDL levels were dangerously low, but the population dangerously long-lived.  I kid, of course.  But the point is that it turns out that it is a particular large HDL molecule that does the most effective work, and can actually clean blood vessels.  And a test for HDL among this population would mislead you about there health.


What’s wrong with statin approach?

        While it appears to reduce heart disease, it creates no overall improvement in mortality.  Translated, this means you still die on time.  You don’t live any longer.  You just die from something else (like liver disease or something else).2


If you take statins watch out for “statin cardiomyopathy.”

        If your doctor recommends statins – Lipitor, Mevacor, Pravachol, and others - take Coenzyme Q10.  Evidently, Coenzyme Q10 is depleted with the use of the statins, and can cause heart failure secondary to statin use, “statin cardiomyopathy.”  See this link Peter H. Langsjoen, MD.



        Common sugar, sucrose, divides into two varieties, glucose which is right-handed and the body can use normally, and fructose, which is left-handed, and the body is much less efficient in its use.  Fructose breaks down to acetate, which is the basis of cholesterol.  So, a reduction in sugar usage will likely aid in the reduction of overall blood cholesterol.


Cleaning up blood vessels

        The statins currently in use do not so much scrub vessels of the LDL as limit the amount of LDL that can attach themselves to the blood vessels.  In the future, when HDL products come on line they may actually be able to remove the LDL from the blood vessels, but I am wondering out loud:  if the vessels are in disrepair, and the LDL is removed, what will the body put in its place?  Certainly, if vitamin C is used together with HDL, you can imagine how it will work.  The HDL will remove the LDL, and the vitamin C will zip up the tear in the vessels.

        Linus Pauling in his lecture on heart disease suggested the amino acid Lysine might attach itself to the LDL molecules on the vessel and remove them.  Evidently, he and his researchers found that this worked in animal studies, and he provided anecdotal evidence that it worked also in humans.  For this work, he was awarded a patent.


The problem with tests

    The problem with tests like cholesterol tests is that it tells you about the cholesterol levels in the blood, but it tells you nothing of the state of the blood vessels. 



A Program

1. Take Vitamin C.  Pauling recommends at least 1 gram, but for optimum health he thinks it may require in excess of 5 grams.  He himself in his book, How to Live Longer and Feel Better, said he took 12 grams.  This puts some backbone in your blood vessels.


2. Eat less sugar.  Sugar is probably the culprit in the production of excess cholesterol.


3. Take Lysine to bind with LDL, and clean your blood vessels.  Some manufacturers of vitamin C offer it in combination with Lysine


4. Consume more soluble fiber, such as oats, and pectin, found in grape fruit and apples, to carry excess cholesterol out of the body.


5. Exercise, it is known to increase HDL.


6. Keep stress levels down, they are known to increase cholesterol levels.  Michael Crichton in his book Travels, tells about his experiences as a resident during his medical training at Harvard University.  The striking thing is no patient ever mentioned their cholesterol levels, it was always a stress in their lives that caused the problem.  A hated inlaw coming to town, or losing a job.  Such an event has consequences for your cholesterol levels.  Accountants often have cholesterol levels 100 points higher during tax season.


1 Much of this article derives from Linus Pauling’s lecture on heart disease.


2 “Major medical emphasis has been placed on lowering cholesterol levels vigorously by means of drugs and diet.  However, important large-scale studies have been done of people with high levels of blood cholesterol, and the results of these studies have been disconcerting.  They show that lowering cholesterol does indeed reduce the number of deaths from heart disease over a period of years, but does not in the least improve overall mortality rates.  People who achieved the lowest cholesterol levels – 160 units or less – had unexpectedly high rates of death from other causes, such as liver cancer, stroke, lung disease, alcoholism, and suicide, when compared with those who had normal or high cholesterol levels.


“Why would low cholesterol levels be correlated with so many serious problems?  Some scientists say that very low cholesterol levels interfere with the production of crucial cell products that require cholesterol.  In light of cholesterol’s fundamental, nonvillainous role in the body, lowering your cholesterol level should not be the major goal.  Rather, the emphasis should be on measures – dietary measures among them – that improve overall health and, as an added benefit, produce optimal cholesterol levels.”


Omega-3 Oils: To Improve Mental Health, Fight Degenerative Diseases, and Extend Your Life, 1996, Donald O. Rudin, M.D., Havard Medical School