This is the center of it all. ❤️

(audio transcript below)

Welcome to AIM For Health: Root-Cause Conversations with Dr. James Biddle. All content from the conversations in this podcast are created and published for informational purposes only. This is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on for personal medical decisions. Always seek the guidance of your doctor with any questions you have regarding a medical condition.

Welcome back – This is Ask Dr. Jim Bob.  I am James Robert Biddle, medical doctor, internist, and here to help me with this question and answer session is our new-patient coordinator Joy Lambert.

Hello everyone, hello Dr. Jim Bob!

Today we are going to talk about –

We’re going to talk about heart disease.  That’s a big topic but it’s something we all need to know about.

What in the world is heart disease?

You know, I was about to ask you that question.

Oh yes, that’s right.

That’s right – you’re the doctor, tell me about it.

All right.  So every muscle in our hearts – the heart is a big muscle that pumps blood.  And muscles need a lot of blood flow themselves.  So not only does the heart pump blood to every other part of your body, but it pumps blood to itself.  So the main artery that comes out of the top of your heart is the aorta.  And right after it exits the heart there are these little holes that carry arteries that carry blood to the heart muscle itself.  Those are called the coronary arteries.

Ok.

Because they feed the heart.  And it is when those get clogged that you develop heart disease.

Then the heart cannot feed itself which makes it hard for it to do its job.

Right.  So if you get a gradual blockage of those arteries, usually from plaque, cholesterol plaquing, then you get a relative lack of blood flow to the heart called ischemia and that results in a heart pain called angina.  And if you get a sudden blockage of that artery from a plaque rupture causing a blood clot, then you get a heart attack or a miocardial infarction.

Oh, here’s a quiz – What is the most common first symptom of heart disease?

Well, I think I know the answer.

What is it?

Death.

Sudden death, you’ve heard this before.

Yes. 

It’s not angina or a heart attack that you survive.  That’s what we know about because we meet those people, and that’s what all the money is spent on, but usually people don’t know they have heart disease and the first thing that happens is the widow maker event.

Which is terrible.

So that is what we are trying to avoid.

Exactly.

And the studies that conventional doctors do like a stress test – well they do a whole bunch of things to look for risk factors, we’re going to talk a lot about risk factors for heart disease, but if you go into the cardiologist and say do I have heart disease?  They will put you on a treadmill test, do a stress test on you – right?

Right, make you run, and hook all the electrodes up to you and print off some graphs and see what is going on.

Well guess what?  A stress test has almost zero predictive value for the future.

And why is that?

Because a stress test tells you right at this moment are you having ischemia, in other words if you are having a symptom like chest pain, is that chest pain angina from your heart? Or is it acid reflux with a contraction of your esophagus?  Or is it pleurisy with inflammation of the lining of your lung? Or is it chest wall pain with a rib that is out?  Or something like that – so that is what a stress test is actually good for, is answering the question – What is this chest pain?  Is this chest pain caused from ischemia right now?  But I could have a normal stress test today and then tomorrow morning wake up, rupture a plaque inside one of my coronary arteries, get a clot forming there, and have a heart attack and die.

That would not be good.

That would not be good.  So it’s not a very good test for predicting the future.

Now when you talk about rupturing a plaque, and you mentioned cholesterol a moment ago.  A question we get all the time from people is “I have elevated cholesterol on my lab work – does that mean I’m going to have a heart attack? Just from that.  And then what is the correlation between cholesterol levels and plaque actually laying down in the arteries. 

Yes, that is an excellent question and in conventional medicine that’s the biggest thing they look at is your cholesterol levels.  But actually there is very little correlation between your cholesterol levels and your risk of heart disease.  In other words of people with heart disease, half of them have normal cholesterol.  Of people with high cholesterol, half of them don’t have heart disease.

How does that work?

Well, because cholesterol is just one risk factor of many risk factors for heart disease.  And it is not a very strong one, but it is the one that conventional medicine makes a lot of money off of, and big pharma makes a lot of money off of – it’s one of the top 10 money makers in big pharma.  Probably out of the top ten, 3 or 4 of them are probably cholesterol medications and then you have the antidepressants.

Right.  Once you get a certain age it’s just expected that you go on certain medications to prevent that from being a problem.

Right.  So we can dig really deep into what causes high cholesterol, but the real question is “Are you a plaque-former or not?”  The way to determine that is a test that is almost never done in conventional medicine and it’s called a coronary artery calcium score.  So this is a 5-minute CT scan of your heart without contrast, there is no IV, it’s not covered by insurance because it’s a screening test.

Right.

It’s a funny world we live in.

Seriously.

Locally it costs about $230.00 to have this done, although that can change in a heartbeat.

I see what you did!

It’s called gated, because obviously your heart is moving, so it’s hard to do a CT scan on a moving object, so they hook you up to a kind of an EKG monitor and they take a slice of the CT at the same point in the electrical rhythm every time so your heart’s in the same position.  So that is how they can get the CT scan of your heart.  So they simply measure how many calcium pixels are in your coronary arteries.  So I had a grandfather die of heart disease and I had this test done about 2 years ago and I had a big fat 0.

Did you ever think you would be so happy to be a 0 in your whole life?

That’s right, I’m a big fat 0.  I don’t have any plaque – so I started smoking cigarettes.

No you didn’t.

No I didn’t.  But I am never going to die of heart disease, I never have to have another score, really I never need to check my cholesterol.  There are four main reasons people die for the most part.  It’s vascular disease, it’s cancer, it’s growing old and feeble, and it’s dementia, physical frailty.  So, there’s one out of those four I don’t have to worry about that one, because I am not a plaque former.

Yes.

So if there is no plaque in those arteries, there’s not going to be much plaque anywhere else in my body either, you know in my neck or my brain, or things like that.

Right. 

So, that is one of the first tests we order, and once you come back with a 0 score, just don’t worry about it anymore.  Stop measuring your cholesterol.

Right – you don’t need the stress of worrying about your heart to contribute to further problems down the road. 

Right.  And certainly don’t take statin drugs to lower your cholesterol.  Now I find 0 scores on people all the time and their doctor is still trying to put them on cholesterol medications.  They are like – oh, but your cholesterol is high, your cholesterol is high!  It’s like so what – there are wonderful studies that show when you are older you actually age better with high cholesterol.

Well, your body needs it, right? Aren’t our brains made out of it?

You need it.  It’s a part of every cell membrane in your body and it’s the precursor for all your hormones, all your gender hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol.  This is where it starts is in cholesterol.

So cholesterol in and of itself is not the devil.

It’s not the devil.  It’s natural to have.  Now – if you are in insulin resistance, which if you listen to our podcast regularly, you should have an idea of what that is.

Right.

Basically if your waist is bigger than your hips you are in insulin resistance.  And insulin, it means you are making too much insulin.  Insulin tells the liver to make cholesterol.  If you’re hormone deficient, if you are postmenopausal or andropausal and you are not on hormones, your body says let’s make more cholesterol so we can get our hormones.

Right.

So those are very common reasons of high cholesterol.

But not necessarily indicative of whether or not you’ve got plaque forming in your arteries.

Exactly.  And it’s very clear what causes plaque.  The unified theory of plaque formation is inflammation in the lining of the arteries called the endothelial lining.

Inflammation.

Inflammation.  So, for example the types of things that are well known to cause heart disease include gingivitis which is inflammation in your gums around your teeth.

Now how does that get to your heart?

Well, because it increases inflammation throughout your body, that kind of disease.  For example, if you have an autoimmune disease like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis you triple your risk of vascular disease like heart disease.

Because it’s causing inflammation throughout the body.

Right.  These markers in your blood stream like a CRP, a C-reactive protein, or a sed rate, an ESR, are elevated in these conditions.  So inflammation is actually the worst common risk factor.  And I’m going to look at all the things that cause inflammation.  It turns out that chronic infections cause inflammation also.  So that is one of the things that we will look at.

But let’s talk about the usual risk factors for heart disease.

Yes, let’s go through those.  What’s first?

Well, we talked about cholesterol, and I’m not going to talk more about cholesterol, because I end up ignoring it a lot.  Or if it needs to be treated I let the cardiologist treat it.

Sure. 

So, blood pressure – hypertension.  And most people think stress, right?  And stress can certainly raise your blood pressure and if you are chronically stressed which is more of a psychological than a physical phenomenon generally, that can make a difference.  But the three big reversible causes of high blood pressure are weight, being overweight; having unrecognized, untreated sleep apnea which we did a whole show on.

Right, we have talked about that.

We talked about that.  And having high heavy metal burden, which we just did a 4-part series on.  But it turns out in 2003 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they published that lead leaking out of their own bones is the leading cause of high blood pressure in postmenopausal women.  So all that lead went there when they were children and teenagers and young adults.  It follows calcium into the bones and then after menopause with no hormones and a sedentary lifestyle, all that calcium is coming out of the bones, you’re getting osteoporosis, all the lead is coming out of the bones.

Well, that’s another really good reason then to pay attention to bone density as we age.

Exactly.  That’s why we are big fans – for example one of the many advantages of hormone replacement therapy and exercise.

Yes.

It’s bad enough to have lead, but if you have it, keep it locked in your bones where it’s not really doing that much damage.

Right, absolutely. 

Next is diabetes, and a very important issue.  We can’t cover diabetes here but…

And we did do an episode on that, so you can go back to that.

And of course, you know smoking, cigarette smoking.

Yes.

And, what should I say about cigarette smoking?

Don’t do it!

Yes, don’t do it!

And if you are doing it, please quit.

Yes, unless you have Crohn’s disease.  That’s the only people who are allowed to smoke, because it actually cuts Crohn’s disease.

Really?

Yes.  If you have Crohn’s disease and you try to stop cigarettes, you double your risk of recurrence.  But you know a great treatment for Crohn’s disease?

What’s that?

Getting yourself infected with intestinal worms.

I’m sorry – say what?

Yes, you can get roundworms, hookworms, or pig worms, either from Germany or Mexico and it cuts Crohn’s disease like really well.  Yes, it’s an anti-inflammatory; you get yourself infected with intestinal worms.

Well that’s certainly something you don’t hear about every day!

Yes, I just had a great result with it in a young man who got them mailed to him from Mexico, from ________________, Mexico.  And you drink the eggs.  So there’s an exciting topic!

Yes, we might have to talk about that someday in more depth!

Yes!  All right.  And then the metals are a big risk factor, but it’s not one of the usual risk factors.  So those are the usual risk factors, and then there’s what I call undervalued risk factors.  They are looked at in conventional medicine but they are not really paid much attention to and that’s stress and social isolation.

We all certainly know a thing about that this year!

Yes, it’s much worse this year.  When you look at studies for example like the Ornish program for heart disease, or studies in cancer, they have these support groups.  And it turns out a large benefit is the support group itself.  Like in the Dean Ornish, certainly the diet may help, he’s on this low fat diet and stuff, but it turns out its support group itself makes the big differenced.

Community, connection.

Yes, connection.  It actually reduces stress and it can triple your survival in advanced cancer, so it is a big deal to stay connected.  Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.  So when you go to the regular doctor they will certainly tell you – oh yes, you are overweight, you should fix that.

But what do you do?

What do you do!

There’s so many reasons why you could be carrying extra weight – what are you supposed to do?

Right.  So we have a whole – nutrition and exercise are your responsibility, but even then they don’t really teach you how to do that very well.  So it’s one of the things that we do, is we teach people how to do that and then we coach them, and cajole them, and irritate them, and tease them…

Hold your hand, kick your butt, and we even made a class for you to watch, so we did all the homework for you too.

That’s right.  Make sure people actually do it, and exercise is the same thing – you’ve got to actually coach people through doing it.  But then there is a whole list of sabotages on weight.

Oh, yes.

So we go through that whole list of sabotages, like sleep apnea, like food allergies, like heavy metals, like chronic infections for why people aren’t losing weight.  And I have a wonderful article, a couple of articles actually, that says the theory on the leading cause of obesity worldwide is actually toxicities and not just heavy metal toxicities but all the thousands of chemicals that we are exposed to, so plastics and petrochemicals and pesticides and all these things, solvents.

Oh yes, food manufacturing alone can expose us to a lot, especially if you are eating a lot of processed foods. 

Right, and then the kicker is – let’s say you lose 20 lbs. of fat and you’re so proud of yourself.  But where did all the toxins go that were in that 20 lbs. of fat.  You know they are fat soluble toxins; they don’t come out in your urine very well.

And most people aren’t chelating. 

They are not chelating.

So where does it go?

It goes into the rest of your body, including your brain which is fat, and then you’re brain says “Oh, I want to dilute this.  I know how to dilute this.  Get fatter, and therefore my toxicity levels go down”.

So it’s encapsulating it, like making toxic pearls out of your own fat.

Kind of.  It’s enlarging the pool, so now, let’s say you have a 10,000 gallon swimming pool and you put so much dye in it.  Well if you now enlarge that to a 20,000 gallon swimming pool that dye is not as concentrated.

Right, you may not even see it.

And that’s what the toxins are doing.  That’s what your body is doing with toxins by putting on fat is diluting the fat soluble toxins.

So you lose the weight and then you inevitably gain it back.

You gain it back, right.  So that is one of the big sabotages for weight control.

So, what I want to get into is the things that are really missed that cause heart disease.

Yes, please.

So let’s start with the simplest.  Vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D.

Vitamin D as in dog, yup.

Which we would usually get from the sun.

We get it from the sun, but who’s going out in the sun?  No, because you get skin cancer.

Right.

So almost everybody needs to take vitamin D.  Now vitamin D deficiency is also a very strong predictor for poor outcome for Covid-19 infection.  It is one of the predictors, and it is easy to cure vitamin D deficiency.

Take some vitamin D.

You can take 5000 units a day.  Now they are changing how you measure vitamin D.  It will no longer be in IUs soon – it will be in micrograms.  So 1000 units is equivalent to 25 mcg, so it would be 125 mcg of vitamin D a day for most people will be fine.  That costs about $1.00 a week.

And vitamin D really is a foundation for our immune system – is it not?

Yes, it actually changes our genetics.  It’s actually not a vitamin, it’s a hormone.

Really?

Yes.

I did not know that.

How about that!  And it has nuclear receptors just like our other hormones.  It goes right through the cell membrane to our nuclear receptors and it turns on and off many many genes.  Yes, so it’s really foundational.  Another really easy one is iron, and exactly the same thing.  Iron overload is a very bad outcome predictor for heart disease, but also for Covid-19 infection.  Which we talked about on the Covid-19 podcast a couple of months ago.  I will do another one here, probably next month sometime, as data is accumulating.  But free iron is inflammatory.

Right, and if you have an overload of it, doesn’t it thicken the blood?

It can.  Yes, you can make too many red blood cells and get thick blood – from that, from high altitude, from untreated sleep apnea, and from too much testosterone replacement.  These are all things that can cause thick blood like that, but even without thick blood, a high iron – it oxidizes, it rusts.  It rusts you from the inside out.  It ruins all your antioxidants.

That’s not a pleasant thought!

So you are taking vitamin C, and you’re taking this and that antioxidant.  Well, guess what?  You’re using it all up if you have high iron.  We like to measure iron 2 different ways.  One is the conventional way with an iron level and iron saturation, and the second way to do it is a ferritin.

Yes.

F E R R I T I N.  And it’s a carrier protein made by the liver.  So that can be falsely elevated with other sites of inflammation if you have an autoimmune disease or infection or something like that, you can’t trust it.  But it will never be falsely low from that, it will just be falsely high.

Right.  And having your iron too low is another problem in itself, but that’s another episode.

That’s a whole other episode.  But – how much does it cost you to lower your iron level if it is too high?

It’s free!  It’s free and you might save someone else’s life doing it !

You might, and you can get a free Covid-19 test if you go donate blood!  Now don’t donate blood if you don’t know what your iron level is.  Because if you are already low in iron, then you are going to be more low in iron.  So you have to have your iron measured before you donate blood, especially if you are a menstruating female.  So that’s an easy one.  And for example, the reference range for ferritin goes from about 20-400.  That’s a really wide range.

That’s a huge range!  And that’s the conventional range.

That’s the conventional range.  They are saying, because the way the reference ranges are made is not looking at any science on what’s good for you, it’s just looking at what the average is in the population.

But the average of the population isn’t always that healthy.

Not very healthy, no.

I don’t want to be average.

No.  So our reference range is 50-100.  While at 220 you double your risk for diabetes and heart disease on the ferritin, when your iron is that high.  So you can be 399 and still be “normal”.

But yet you are at risk.

But you’re at risk because there is no money in treating high iron levels, because the treatment is free or cheap.  If you can’t go to the Red Cross and donate blood – which if you do by the way, don’t tell them you have high iron because they won’t take your blood, they think if you’re using them as your therapeutic phlebotomist, then you’re going to lie to them about your risk factors and get somebody sick.  But we can also do phlebotomy in the clinic.  Now we have to charge you because while you can take your blood and pour it down the drain or put it on your garden as blood meal, to us, we have to pay somebody to incinerate it as a toxic medical waste.

Right, but it is still a pretty small fee if that is a service you need to get back in range.

That’s right.  We charge $35.00 for ½ a pint that we draw.  We don’t draw off more than ½ pint because we don’t want you passing out.

No. 

We don’t have cookies and juice for you.

We do have juice!  But no cookies.

All right – what’s another simple risk factor?  Gout.

What’s gout?

Gout is high uric acid which forms crystals and you get painful joints, usually at the base of your big toe.

Why do you get gout?

Well, it’s usually genetic actually and it is exacerbated by eating too many purines which is a type of nucleic acid actually found especially high in shellfish, shrimp, and things like that.  So, this is a genetic issue mostly, and partially a dietary issue.  But if you don’t have the genetics for gout it is never an issue.

Got it.

Yes.  But if you have genetics then you have to watch your diet.

A not so simple risk factor is PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome.

And what is that?

That’s women who have multiple cysts on their ovaries and with the full-blown syndrome they also have hirsutism which means they have to do hair removal from parts of their body that women don’t usually have to do hair removal from.  And they tend to gain weight easily and get acne.  Now, in conventional medicine PCOS is kind of one of those black and white things – you’ve either got it or you don’t.  But it’s not just one gene, it’s a whole collection of genes and you can have a little bit of PCOS.

Is there a way to test for that?

There’s not a good test.  I mean, you do a pelvic ultrasound to look at the ovaries for the cysts, and if you have multiple cysts you have pretty much nailed it.  But there are other aspects too.   So women who have that issue though, many of them know they have it, but they don’t necessarily know they are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

Is PCOS hard to treat?

Well, we actually have great success in treating PCOS.  It is of course lifelong treatment because it’s genetic.  It gets a little bit easier after menopause, but there are many many things you can do to help PCOS.  Especially one of the best is a nutritional supplement called inositol.

And what does that do?

It apparently improves the receptor on your ovaries for receiving the signal from your pituitary called luteinizing hormone, because it is resistant to that signal that seems to be the biggest driver of PCOS.  Because then the pituitary yells louder if the ovaries aren’t listening and LH goes up but the extra signal goes to the adrenal glands which make male-ish hormones and so that is part of the problem with the excessive hairiness.

I see!

Yes, and actually the very same thing happens in postmenopausal women.

Right.

I they take hormones then their pituitary is screaming and their adrenal glands make too many male hormones and then they get chin hairs and male pattern baldness.

All right – the next one, again we have talked a lot about sleep apnea, and sleep apnea is epidemic.  I have terrible sleep apnea, it’s because I had 4 wisdom teeth pulled, I had 4 teeth pulled for braces, 4 premolars.  They try not to do that anymore, but…and so there is not enough room in my mouth for my tongue.

Right.

You wouldn’t know that by how much I talk, but –

(Laughing)

But when I sleep, then the base of my tongue blocks my airway.

Which is obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea, that’s right.  And then central sleep apnea is from a head injury or a stroke usually, or an infection or something like that in the brain.  We mentioned autoimmune diseases.  And then the real interesting one – we talked about iron overload, and then testosterone deficiency.

Testosterone deficiency?  Being a risk factor for heart disease?

Right.

How does that work?

Well, I don’t really know.  I think it increases inflammation.  You know, there is this idea out there that testosterone makes you aggressive, but what is really interesting is that men who have good levels of testosterone are actually usually very calm.

Really?

Yes, unless they are overdosed.  Now if you overdose on testosterone, then that can make you aggressive.  And women will certainly feel that if they go for hormone pellet therapy; they often get overdosed on testosterone in that situation.  They will complain about acne, hair loss, road rage, and things like that.  But testosterone deficiency shows up as grumpy old man syndrome.  It’s like when you are low in testosterone, that is when you are really a bear.

Really?

Yes.  And I don’t know exactly why testosterone deficiency causes heart disease but there is a very strong correlation to that, and early dementia.  So we are very big on measuring that and correcting it when we can, and again, that is a whole other topic on how to correct testosterone deficiency.

Right.  Because isn’t that another scenario where the reference range is huge, but we actually want a tighter range to make sure that things are as they should be.

And usually guys have not had a baseline done when they were young and healthy.  So the reference range goes all the way from like 250 to maybe 1100 on testosterone levels.  So you go into your doctor and you are 300 on your testosterone.  But 5 years ago maybe you were 900.

So no longer normal to yourself.

Yes, you’ve dropped to 1/3 of what you were 5 years ago and you are not going to feel normal.

Right.

And then all the things that come with that testosterone deficiency which is loss of muscle mass, too much fat mass, apathy, grumpy old man syndrome, lower libido and erections – that all weighs on people, but also increased risk of dementia and heart disease.  Now, interestingly giving testosterone has been shown to reverse early dementia in guys who are low in it.

Ok.

But the studies on giving testosterone for heart disease are very mixed and here’s why.  I think if you did it right you would have good results, but most doctor’s don’t know the risks to giving testosterone and when you give testosterone, guys can get thick blood.  It tells the bone marrow to make more red blood cells and then you have this secondary polycythemia or too many red blood cells, also called erythrocytosis.  And that can cause heart attacks or strokes.  So when you give testosterone you have to follow the blood count to make sure you are not doing that.  And it occurs one out of three times when you give testosterone, so it is really common.  You have to keep a really close eye on it and I just don’t think doctors pay close enough attention to that, or many of them don’t even know it.  And I have seen so many people come in here and they are a little bit low in testosterone and the doctor just puts them on testosterone shots.  So to me that is the last thing you do.  We have a whole program that we call testicular rehabilitation.

Yes.  Because sometimes you don’t start with giving testosterone – you try to help the body make its own again.

That’s right.  You look for why did this happen?  Is it sleep apnea that dampened that down?  Is it heavy metals?  Is it a lack of something else?  Nutritional deficiency, some other stressor?  Is it a medication?  And then we can use fertility drugs usually given to women who are having fertility issues.  We can give them to men too and it gooses their testicles into making testosterone again.  So 2/3 of the time we don’t have to give testosterone.  We can actually get the w______________ working again.

Up and running on your own.

That’s right.  And then the heavy metals which is of course one of my favorite topics and we just talked about it, but here’s an amazing study that was done through the VA Hospital and they used an x-ray machine to look at how much lead is in your kneecap.

Kneecap.

Your patella, of guys, and what they found is a huge increased risk of dying from heart disease.  And what they do is they take the top 20% or pentile and compare them to the lowest 20% which is a standard we look at – either the top 20% or the top 25% compared to the lowest 20% or 25% and they see what the difference is.  So for example, if you do this with diabetes you have about a three-fold increased risk of dying from heart disease, if you are diabetic versus non-diabetic.

Right.

You can do it for smokers; you have about a three-fold increased risk of heart disease.  That’s a relative risk of 3 which means you are 300% more likely to die of heart disease if you are a smoker versus a nonsmoker.  Well it’s about 9-fold for lead.  So being in the top 20% of lead like I used to be is like being a smoking diabetic as far as your risk factor of dying from a plaque rupture causing a blood clot.

So you could be doing all the right things in your lifestyle and if you’re not even aware of this lead burden it could still be sabotaging you. 

It could still get you – that’s exactly right.  And this is one of those things that are never looked at in conventional medicine, even though it was published in a major medical journal and straight from the VA system.

I bet there is not a lot of money in it.

There’s not a lot of money in it, that’s exactly right.  Which brings us to chelation therapy.

Yes – how do we treat it?

You treat lead and you can stabilize plaque in the arteries with chelation therapy and what is that?  Chele means claw in Greek and basically chelation means one thing grabs on to another thing.  Now that can be very simple, nutrition supplements for example.  We use a chelated magnesium because if you hook that magnesium onto an amino acid your gut absorbs it better.

Which is good!

Which is good – you get better absorption.  Right.  Here you are using synthetic amino acids to grab on to heavy metals, so the one that we give by IV generally is EDTA.

What does that stand for?  I bet that’s a mouthful.

Ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid.

I’ll take your word for it.

All right.  And this was first used actually in World War II because of embargos on acetic acid is used in the textile industry to grab onto the metals that were making clothing not the right color in the water.

Interesting!

Yes.  And then it was used to treat actually lead toxicity in people who worked, especially men who worked in shipyards spraying leaded paint onto ships and people who worked in foundries and things like that.  And so they would do blood lead tests and if you were high they would give you these IV treatments of EDTA chelation therapy in the 1950s to lower your lead levels, and some of those people happened to have heart disease and angina, and low and behold their angina got better.  In the 1950s chelation therapy was for 5 years the new thing for treating heart disease until the first bypass surgery.

Which you make a lot more money off of surgery period.

A lot more money.  Because chelation is not simple and quick like just cracking your chest – well that’s not simple I guess – but it’s quick!  You crack your chest open and you harvest some veins out of your leg and you-bypass means you make this other little artery, you turn a vein into an artery and you bypass the blockage in the artery.

Make a new connection.

Yes, just like if there is traffic, you take a side road to go around the traffic.  Just like that.  But, if you have clogging of an artery, what’s happening to all the other miles of arteries in the rest of your body?  It’s also getting clogged up.

Yes, exactly!  It doesn’t just lay down in the heart.

That’s right.  And ever since then chelation therapy has been the black sheep of medicine for treating heart disease, in fact it is illegal in Tennessee to do this, and was almost illegal in North Carolina but there was a 10-year legal battle fought in the 1990s so that we can do this.

I’m glad for that.

Yes.  And so it looks like a series of IVs at the most twice a week.  Usually once a week, depending on how dire straights you are in.  And you usually have to do like 30-40 IVs, so it’s a commitment.

It’s a commitment but it’s worth doing.

Yes.  And a whole series of studies show, and in my personal experience, about 75-80% of the time you can avoid or significantly delay for years getting a stent or a bypass surgery.

So what exactly does the chelation do to the plaque in the arteries?

It makes it stabilized.  It stabilizes the plaque.  It makes it lay down flatter.  Because the plaques that rupture have a soft gooey center and it’s called vulnerable plaque.  It’s kind of like the inside of pimple or a zit.  You know what happens to a pimple?

They pop.

They pop.  Yes, usually on the mirror.  But here it pops to the inside of your artery and then all this gooey stuff causes your clotting factors in your bloodstream to make a blood clot and that is when you have a heart attack, is when you have this sudden blockage of the artery from a plaque rupture of vulnerable plaque.  So chelation, a series of IV chelation therapies basically turns vulnerable plaque into stable plaque so that it doesn’t rupture.  It does not get rid of plaque.

Is it like squishing a marshmallow then – it’s still the same amount of material but you’re just changing the volume of it?

Right.  It does not make your coronary artery calcium score go down, it does not remove the calcium from your arteries, and it does not change the progression of your heart disease.  For that you have to get rid of your risk factors.  You have to change your diet, change your exercise, get rid of your diabetes, control your blood pressure, get rid of your heavy metals, treat your sleep apnea – all those things.  Now I recently had a woman unfortunately that has been coming in for chelation therapy and for 10 years I have been arguing with her about all these things and she is like “I don’t have to do all that because I am doing chelation therapy”.  I’m like no, it doesn’t work that way!  And now she is in trouble and she is mad because the chelation therapy didn’t save her and, you know, there is no pill to save you from your poor lifestyle choices.

Right.  We all need to take responsibility for ourselves as best we can, and we have to commit to it, and it’s a long-term commitment.

That’s right.  So our whole philosophy in our practice is, there are two things happening here.  One is we get to teach, educate, and coach you around those lifestyle things, but that is your responsibility, you still have to do it.  And then secondly we get to play Sherlock Holmes and find those things – there is no way you can find out on your own if you have high iron.

No.

Or heavy metals.

And not all other practitioners are going to be looking at these things.

Exactly.   And so that is why we love our job.  Because we can find these things and we can really help people.  Now luckily this woman is now – now she gets it finally.  It’s like OK, I’m actually going to control my diabetes, change my lifestyle, and eat differently.  I see so many people, they work so hard.  You know, they work the job for 20-30 years and they get to that point in their life, it’s like “I get to live the good life now!”

Yup, put your feet up and relax – do whatever you want!

Eat rich foods, drink every night!

Sure, why not?  You’re retired!

That’s right, but that’s actually not what the good life looks like.  What the good life looks like is eating real food, a good diet, exercising at least moderately, being active, doing your stress management, and not being sedentary.

You know, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Exactly.  You say to me all the time – “Your best move is your next move, keep moving”.

That’s right.  And sitting too long.  Your best position is your next position.

Right.

Exactly.  All right.  Well I think that’s it.  Do we have any other questions to do for heart disease?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

You know I can’t go an episode without finding a way to bring it up.

Well, you love it.  It’s a great therapy.

I love it and I love to talk to people about it too.

Now I have seen studies that if you are in an acute coronary syndrome, meaning you are having ischemia right now, then there are places in Europe that will put you into a hyperbaric chamber and that will help.  Here in America they take you to the cath lab and open up your artery.  And that’s also good.  I am not saying that stents and catheterization and bypass are bad, but I can go deeply into the information that about 70-75% of the time they are not justified by conventional medicine’s own criteria.

And there’s always risks.  And why put yourself through it if you could prevent it or delay it.

If you could prevent it or delay it, right.  Well hyperbaric oxygen therapy  is really good for is cardiomyopathy and that’s when you have a floppy heart.

A floppy heart.

A floppy heart, and that floppy heart can be for example from Covid-19 is causing floppy hearts.  It’s where the heart muscle has been damaged.  The most common cause of cardiomyopathy is ischemic cardiomyopathy where you have had heart attacks and therefore pieces of your heart muscle were dead and scarred.

Which weakens the surrounding area I would imagine.

Yes, it does.  But just like in your brain when you have a stroke, there are pieces – you can’t do anything about a spot in the brain that is dead.  Or a spot on the heart that is dead.  But around that there is an area called the penumbrum.  It’s the border between dead and healthy.

Stunned.

It’s stunned.  It’s not working.  It not dead, but it’s not working, and that is what hyperbaric oxygen can wake up in either the brain or the heart.  So for example, stroke victims will see usually at least a 25%, often a 50-75% recovery even years later, and head injuries, but in the heart the same thing.  So just recently had a guy, a dear gentleman that I have known for 20 years, who had an ejection fraction down around 10-15% from ischemic cardiomyopathy.  During this winter when he was isolated with Covid he had a silent heart attack, didn’t know he had it, and developed congestive heart failure afterwards.  And with doing a series of hyperbarics and chelation, now his ejection fraction is 20-25%.  Well that will get you out of that severe congestive heart failure range.

That’s amazing. 

Yes, you can live for the rest of your life with 25% ejection fraction.  A normal is 50%, 45-55% is a normal ejection fraction.  So he is not normal but he is going to be fine as long as he prevents further events.  He can live a long time with that.  So that’s very exciting.  Viral cardiomyopathy is the next most common.

Viral.

Viral.  So you can have a number of viruses that are, like the common cold, can end up in your heart and cause heart damage, but also the Covid-19 has a very high rate of that.  And then interestingly, a very interesting study was done, not widely known in conventional medicine, but toxic metals are a big cause of floppy cardiomyopathy.  They did heart biopsies when they were investigating and they found extremely high levels of heavy metals in these hearts that had idiopathic cardiomyopathy.  Now idiopathic means we are idiots and we don’t know why they have it.

Does it really?

Yes.  That’s what it means.  Idio – pathic.  The pathology is unknown.  Because we are idiots.

But it sounds so technical and official.

That’s right.  Doctors love to give something a name and then they think they have done something good by- Oh, well you have lupus.  OK, what are we going to do about it?  Well, I don’t know about that, but you have lupus.  They feel good, they have named it.  They haven’t really helped you but they have named it and they think they have done their job.

All right.  So that’s a short primer on what we do for ischemic heart disease.  I hope that is helpful for you all.

Yes, absolutely.  And please continue to send in your questions.  Let us know what you want to know about, and we hope you have a great day.

And we will be back with ask Dr. Jim Bob some more questions.

Yes, we will.  Bye-bye.

Bye-bye.

 

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