ABC’S of Health
By Dr. Jo Gjelsten
Love Your Heart
In February, we all like to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a ton of chocolate or at least a few pounds of it per year, in and on you unless you run up a hill on a daily basis, so I thought it might be nice to talk a little or a lot about heart function. We just came indoors after shoveling a ton of snow. Our wonderful neighbor plowed our driveway, did a great job, then the street plowed us in again, leaving us with the heaviest, deepest snow right in front of the vehicle we intend to pry out of our driveway. I often wonder why, in 2011, here we are throwing white stuff over our shoulders like they did in the 1700’s. Ok, we tried our dear neighbors snow blower (thank you dear neighbors) on that exact same lump last time we had the storm of the century, and even with getting mad at it and attacking it with that machine; fun at first but hard to push, my shoveling techniques are far faster, I think. Why, I wonder, don’t we all have driveways that melt snow like we have under the sidewalk that leads from the street to the building at the office in Nyack, which has a built in melting wire thing under the concrete. Just flip a switch and sip your hot chocolate until all is clear! “Did you turn on the sidewalk?” is a common phrase heard around the office. Patients turn their heads: “huh?” I try not to say that around folks in the office anymore, me being me to begin with, and you, if you read my column, (Neighbor Tim) may struggle sometimes to get my sense of humor.
After 3 snowfalls so far in the last few weeks, and for me writing this on the 12th of January I imagine more to come, we need to talk about keeping you from dropping like stones on your snow shovels because you haven’t been doing this for at least a few days, years or months. You would not, or maybe you would, but don’t, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Eric, unless you trained for it, athlete that you are. Why? Because you know that it’s likely you won’t make it to the top, if you’re flabby, and you’ll embarrass yourself, dropping like a baby elephant in front of all those porters who carry your dining room table for you up that big hill. Your muscles would be really sore. Your heart, like any muscle, is either conditioned or not. It also needs nutrients and co-enzymes to function. One big one is CoQ-10, used by your mighty little mitochondria which you may have heard, powers your cells. Statins like Lipitor, blood pressure meds as well, LOWER your CoQ-10, making only your muscles cramp if you’re lucky, and that can happen just about anywhere in your body, or unlucky, for a small (but significant to those who it has happened to), percentage of patients on statins who suffer from damage to the muscles that move your eyes. This damage can also be permanent, and can happen in any muscle. It’s called Rhabdomyolysis, (or “rabdomylosis” should you wish to mispronounce it as an actor who plays a Doc on a new show said recently when interviewed), as I cringed. Along with taking CoQ-10, the right kind at the right dose for the right reason, I like to say, we need to avoid inflammation of the arteries, which is the real cause of plaque build-up, not cholesterol. Cholesterol is lowered by statins, sometimes too low, without using the proper, or enough CoQ-10, then some have heart attacks anyway. Nice job. You drug companies scare the “bejeesus” out of folks, overcharge them for their meds, then have no part in the result, despite the fact that you’ve got a patent on statins that includes CoQ-10, but do you use it??!! No! Dr. Jo will now simma’ down and “un-inflame” a word I made up. We can keep inflammation in check with several products. My personal favorite is Dr. Jo’s O’s which I shamelessly plug, one per day, because I get them in small batches, a dozen per order, enteric coated for you fish burp folks, small fish, deep water, and I know the source. (Norway). Other anti-inflammation products, one I just ordered for us because I literally ingest all products I give to my patients, sometimes before I give it to them (ok, I kid you). It’s from the best lab I can find, a hypoallergenic patented product that uses curcumin in a form really absorbable to the body. On to homocysteine, B-12, and your heart Henry. Low B-12 can raise your homocysteine. You don’t want high homocysteine, whether controversial or not, as it’s not just a cardiac health marker; if it’s high your may be low in B-12. You also need B-12 for your nervous system Nellie. B-6, B-12 or folic acid deficiencies can raise homocysteine. It can be lowered with specific products that support these and other levels responsible for high homocysteine.
Diabetics, if you take Metformin, you may be deficient in B-12. Metformin aka Glucophage, lowers your B-12, which can make you really tired. Why? Other than homocysteine effects, both folic acid and B-12 deficiencies can produce a “macrocytic” (large cell) anemia, which means the red blood cells aren’t maturing to their smaller size, yes that’s what I said, and you’re cells aren’t getting “fed” from these “baby Huey” sized cells. So, here are three things to remember about heart health though there is always more. 1) Get in shape before you lift that shovel Shirley! 2) Make sure if you’re on Meds like statins and blood pressure lowering drugs that you get proper advice regarding nutrients that are lowered (and not just CoQ-10) on these meds. If you’re on Metformin aka Glucophage for diabetes get a B-12 blood level. 3) Pay attention, via a blood test called CRP (c-reactive protein) to your inflammation levels, and homocysteine levels, also a blood test. I have a presentation called “Drug Induced Nutrient Deficiencies” that I’m happy to do for your group. (Will work for chocolate). Now go back to your TV where likely if a storm is on the way or here, you’ll see several thousand shots of piles of salt, people describing the snow as if we never heard of the stuff, weather maps every 5 seconds where weather guys and gals warn you in no uncertain terms that a weather “bomb” is on the way, which is what happened last night. So we woke up to the sun today. Enjoy your hot chocolate, and get a kid to shovel for you!! www.GoDrJo.com my new and improved website, a work in progress, like me! ©Jan 2011.
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