Constitutional Health Network:
Cardiac Medication and Treatments

The news stories all start out the same: People with atrial fibrillation (afib)—a heart rhythm disorder—may have a higher risk of developing dementia, they say, and it may be due to a widely-used afib medication. What they don’t say (unless it’s buried deep in the middle of the story where no one will read it) is that this “afib medication” isn’t just used for atrial fibrillation.    It’s an incredibly common drug. It’s used to prevent strokes. It’s used both to treat heart attacks and to prevent them. It’s used for atrial fibrillation. It’s used to prevent blood clots after hip or knee replacement surgery. It’s used to treat deep vein thrombosis…the list goes on and on. It’s sold under the brand names Jantoven and Coumadin. The drug is warfarin, a blood thinner that till recently was the only game in town for many conditions.   Another thing they don’t ...

Imagine if there were a drug that could reduce the damage a heart attack causes to your heart. Imagine if it could reduce that damage by an incredible eighty percent. Imagine that this drug could cut your risk of cardiac arrest or death after a heart attack too. Imagine that it’s something paramedics can easily give you when the ambulance shows up. Now imagine that it only costs pennies on the dollar. Ok, you can stop imagining now…because this drug actually exists. So why haven’t you heard about it? Why are we not using it every time someone has a heart attack? Because Big Pharma flatly refuses to make it. Here’s why. This is what happens when medicine thinks outside the box Meet Harry Selker, director of the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. His grandfather was the inventor of the first automobile shock absorber, and Selker too has been a life-long tinkerer. But where his ...

If you spend a lot of time reading health news, it’s easy to get the idea that Americans are dropping like flies. There’s an aura of panic that runs through most health-related journalism, from pure “sky is falling” fearmongering to quieter but just as fear-filled stories on new drugs and treatments. They all have one thing in common: they’re designed to make us scared. To make us think we’re in danger of imminent death if we don’t do what we’re told. To get us to put our faith in Big Pharma and Big Medicine. And one of the biggest, scariest topics the media likes to focus on is heart disease. To hear the media tell it, if we make it past 65 without having a heart attack or heart surgery, it’s a miracle. If we’re not taking twenty different drugs and spending our life savings on “health” insurance and prescriptions, we’re just plain stupid. And if we’re audacious enough to take our health ...

Garlic has been used as a medicine for millennia. Over the centuries, it's been used as a remedy for everything from coughs to cancer. Before the discovery of antibiotics, it was even used as a wound dressing to lower the risk of infection. So does it actually work for any of these things? While no one is suggesting that we stop using penicillin and start using garlic cloves, studies do consistently find that garlic is a very effective treatment for coronary heart disease. The most recent study, to be published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that garlic — specifically, aged garlic — prevents, reduces, and even reverses the buildup of soft plaque in arteries. Garlic really does fight heart disease For this study, one group took a placebo and another took 2,400 mg of aged garlic extract. They were first examined with Cardiac Computed Tomography Angiography. This is a type of imaging tool (like an MRI or CT scan) that looks at the arteries leading to the ...

Not so long ago, acupuncturists were viewed as little more than snake oil salesmen.    No one was doing any research on acupuncture, because mainstream medicine refused to admit that it had any basis in reality. Nevermind that the Chinese have been treating disease with acupuncture for thousands of years — successfully, I might add. Because it doesn't conform to our narrow Western views, stories about acupuncture were dismissed without even listening to them.    Today acupuncture has gone mainstream. Most of us everyday Joes are less concerned with why something works than with how well it works. We want to know three things:    Will it make me feel better?    Does it have unpleasant or dangerous side effects?    Will it cost me an arm and a leg?    The answers are yes, no, and no. So in spite of Big Medicine's efforts to stamp it out, acupuncture has slowly but ...

Heart surgeries are some of the most common inpatient surgeries — that is, surgeries requiring a hospital stay afterward. In 2010 alone, 395,000 people had a coronary artery bypass graft. Half a million people had a balloon angioplasty of a coronary artery. And 454,000 had a stent inserted in a coronary artery. However, just because these procedures have become routine doesn’t mean they don’t carry serious risks. The surest way to reduce these risks is to avoid needing surgery in the first place. What these surgeries are, in plain English Medicine has its own language. I like to call it “medicalese.” Medicalese is a very handy thing for doctors — it lets them put a lot of information into a few words. This is great when you’re making notes on patient’s charts or talking to other doctors, but for the average person it can be confusing. Confusion isn’t good. You should be fully informed and crystal-clear about your ...

After a heart attack, you might think that the last thing you need to do is exercise. After all, your heart’s been injured, right? And when you injure a muscle, the best thing to do is to let it rest and recuperate. …Right? In the case of your heart, no.   For decades, doctors prescribed bed rest immediately after a heart attack. Heart patients were advised to avoid physical activity, often for weeks or even months. Today we know better. The evidence is overwhelming - exercise is one of the best ways to help heal your heart and prevent a second heart attack. And the sooner you start doing it, the better. Can exercise mend a broken heart? You have a heart attack when blood flow to your heart is cut off. This leaves part of your heart muscle starved for oxygen, and the cells start to die. Once heart cells die, they’re not restored - your body fills in the damaged areas with scar tissue. These areas of scar tissue are thinner and ...

Let's be clear: drug companies love medications. Lobbyists in Washington love medications. Even many of our doctors love medications. Why? Because making and selling medications is a multi-billion dollar industry. Are all medications bad? No, certainly not. Modern medicine has many life-saving benefits. This includes better technology and medications that treat a variety of illnesses. I'm not here to demonize prescription drugs. There are situations when the use of medication is completely appropriate. But we all know what happens at the end of a drug commercial. The voice-over person begins talking a mile a minute, spewing out a long list of side-effects. They talk so fast that we can barely understand them.  …and we all know why. Medications come with side effects. Many of these side effects are severe and dangerous. Yet people are so quick to take medications because it ...

The news stories all start out the same: People with atrial fibrillation (afib)—a heart rhythm disorder—may have a higher risk of developing dementia, and it may be due to a widely-used afib medication. What they don’t say (unless it’s buried deep in the middle of the story where no one will read it) is that this “afib medication” isn’t just used for atrial fibrillation. It’s an incredibly common drug. It’s used to prevent strokes. It’s used both to treat heart attacks and to prevent them. It’s used for atrial fibrillation. It’s used to prevent blood clots after hip or knee replacement surgery. It’s used to treat deep vein thrombosis…the list goes on and on. It’s sold under the brand names Jantoven and Coumadin. The drug is warfarin, a blood thinner that till recently was the only game in town for many conditions. Legitimate concern or just a push for newer, pricier drugs? The ...

Last year, I told you about how the newest, priciest diabetes drugs like Jardiance and Victoza are making claims that they prevent heart disease. I told you how the news outlets were trumpeting these stories loudly while completely ignoring the safety issues with these drugs—not to mention the price tag. I’ve been waiting for the next development. These pricey pills are nearing the end of their patents, and Big Pharma is looking for ways to keep their hands in your wallet by keeping patented versions on the market. They’ve already managed this with Victoza, which I’ll talk about in a moment. Now they’re trying to do it with Jardiance. And considering the life-threatening side effects that were associated with Victoza, it’s a pretty sure bet that another incarnation of Jardiance—complete with shiny new patent protection—will be a shoo-in. Here’s what’s happening. Once again we’re human guinea ...

The internet is loaded with advice about heart attacks. You’ll find hundreds of thousands of articles on how to survive a heart attack. Millions on how to prevent one. Dozens of millions on recognizing the symptoms. What you won’t find nearly so much of is advice on healing after you’ve already had one. And while knowing how to recognize a heart attack and what to do while you’re having one may save your life, what you do post heart attack will affect your quality of life for the rest of your life.   That’s what I want to talk about today Here’s what actually happens when you have a heart attack When you have a heart attack, blood flow to part of your heart is cut off. This means oxygen is also cut off. The oxygen-starved heart muscle begins to die.    How serious the heart attack is depends on how much of your heart is deprived of oxygen and for how long. Once blood flow is restored no new cell death occurs. ...

The world of exercise and fitness is full of clichés. Some of them are ridiculous—“no pain, no gain” comes to mind—and the majority of them are little more than thinly-disguised judgements against anyone who isn’t a gym rat.  But many of the things that we think of as clichés were, when someone first said them, not just true but strikingly true. And that even includes a handful of fitness clichés. Like this one:   Question: What kind of exercise is the best one for X? Answer: The one you’ll actually DO.   This is hands-down the truest statement I’ve ever heard about exercise, and it’s as true when it comes to heart health as to anything else. It doesn’t matter what kind of amazing benefits any given workout may offer if it’s not something you’ll actually jump in and do. So the first rule when it comes to exercise for your heart is this: pick something you enjoy. ...

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