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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Heart Attack Isn't As Much Fun As You Might Think

I've never had a heart attack... but I came a little too close for comfort. I remember it like it was yesterday although it was 15 years ago. It was a pleasant early fall morning as my wife Bernie and I embarked on the drive to Modesto for a "routine" treadmill test.

Upon arrival at Valley Heart Center the proficient nurses wired me up to the cardiac monitors. After what seemed an eternity (about 3 minutes) of huffing and puffing on the treadmill the technician stopped the instrument of torture, unhooked me and guided me to a chair for a very welcome rest.

A few minutes later a nurse said, "The doctor would like to see you now." and ushered me into the cardiologist's office. As I sat down he was staring at my chart with a deep frown on his face. "I don't like what I see here", he said, "You are a walking time bomb. You need to go to the hospital immediately."

Two days later Dr. Hugh Tobin, a highly skilled heart surgeon, sawed open my chest and stitched in bypasses to six clogged arteries. That got my attention.

I know that some of you are surprised that a banker actually had a heart. Six bypasses isn't a record but it's not bad for a 59 year old with normal cholesterol and blood pressure and no weight problem.

What actually causes a heart attack? The problem isn't actually the heart but the clogging of the arteries that provide oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle.

The common belief is that eating too much cholesterol and fat causes this clogging.

Cholesterol has received a bum rap-in fact it is so vital that you'd have to eat about twenty eggs to absorb what your body makes every day. Here are the key risks.
  • Inflammation and oxidation.
  • Low HDL cholesterol. This is the good cholesterol. Low risk is between 45-54.
  • Exercise improves HDL's and lowers LDL's. The ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol is more important than total cholesterol.
  • Lp(a) cholesterol. Many researchers say this is the "baddest" cholesterol but doctors rarely check it.
  • High homocysteine. This is very dangerous and can injure the arteries and accelerate clogging. Fortunately it can be lowered easily with folic acid and vitamins B12 and B6.
How to keep your arteries clear.
  • Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. They are full of antioxidants and fiber, which reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and improve heart health.
  • Try to have beans 4-5 times per week. High levels of legume consumption significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Eat cold-water fish twice each week. It is high in essential omega 3 fats.
  • Reduce the oxidation damage of fat and cholesterol in the arteries with a high quality natural vitamin supplement. A "one-a-day" vitamin doesn't cut it. Centrum Silver has only 45 mg E and 60 mg C. You need 400 mg vitamin E and 500-1000 mg vitamin C. I strongly recommend that you also take CoQ10 and Omega 3 oil supplements.
  • Exercise (surprise) 3-4 times per week. Work hard.
Follow these simple basics and you'll prevent up to 80% of heart and other serious diseases.

The cardiologist looked up from the treadmill report and grimly stated, "You are a walking time bomb. You need to go to the hospital immediately." Two days later a heart surgeon sawed open Gene Millen's chest and stitched in bypasses to six clogged arteries.

"A six way heart bypass isn't a record" said Gene, "but it's not bad for a skinny 59 year old with normal cholesterol and blood pressure. The villains and heroes in the heart attack melodrama may surprise you as they have me."

Gene Millen reviews new research on heart attack risks that are more dangerous than high cholesterol... and how natural supplements and heart vitamins can send them packing! Check out The Heart Health website at


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