My safe, natural, and effective approach for optimum heart health as you age
We are well aware of all of the attention given to heart health from government officials and their crony-capitalist codependents—including the American Heart Association, the legions of cardiologists running their treadmills in every community, and big pharma and its metabolic-poison statin drugs.
Shouldn’t all of this attention and expense equate to some kind of effective prevention and treatment strategies for heart health for patients? So it is indeed troubling when a leading medical journal, Circulation, had to recently report that there are “significant gaps in knowledge” when it comes to cardiovascular care in older adults.1 And that was putting it mildly.
This shocking statement is particularly disturbing because we all know that the risk of cardiovascular disease increases with age. And yet, as this report shows, mainstream medicine does not really know what it is doing when it comes to providing cardiovascular care to those who need it the most—older Americans.
That’s the bad news. But the somewhat good news is that the mainstream has been barking up the wrong trees anyway. So you are not really missing much of anything.
In a moment, I’ll share with you my top tips to keep your heart healthy, naturally, as you age. But first, let’s look at how the mainstream got itself in this illogical, cardiological conundrum in the first place.
80% of cardiovascular deaths occur in people older than 65
You may be surprised to learn that cancer is the leading cause of death among adults age 18 to 74. It is only after age 75 that cardiovascular disease emerges as the number one cause of mortality. But its effect on older adults is so overwhelming that cardiovascular disease dominates health statistics for the entire adult population as the number one cause of death overall.
The Circulation article notes that people over age 65 account for more than half of the cardiovascular procedures and hospitalizations in the U.S., as well as about 80% of cardiovascular deaths. And although people age 75 and older comprise only about 6% of the total population, more than 50% of cardiovascular deaths occur in this age group.
However, as the scientific statement admits at the outset, despite the large impact of heart disease on older adults, there remain troubling gaps in providing cardiovascular care to this particular population.
Circulation would not publish such a statement lightly. It has been in circulation, so to speak, for a long time, and has been a leading medical journal since its debut.
In fact, my very first scientific study was published in Circulation, from research I performed as a second-year medical student while working with the chief of surgery at the Graduate Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. (This hospital was originally set up by Penn’s scientific faculty to admit patients who would participate in scientific studies, while also receiving premium medical care, in order to advance medical research—and was an early and better version of the “NIH Clinical Center.”)
Just from reading the headline of the recent Circulation statement, I suspected that a big part of the cardiovascular care problem in older adults is that most of the modern medical research has actually been conducted on middle-aged adults. Researchers often ignore older adults, even though they are the ones who really need cardiology care the most (or at least, need most of the care).
Why do researchers always forget about senior citizens?
Things change as we age, and it turns out that many medical research studies (used primarily to get drugs approved) don’t take that basic biological fact into account. But even on the rare occasions when cardiology studies do reflect this fact, they are often ignored if the information doesn’t fit mainstream medicine’s agenda.
For example, JAMA studies published years ago demonstrated that there is no reason to give statin drugs to people over age 70. Geriatricians and primary care doctors are finally getting the message, but try telling that to crony-capitalist codependent cardiologists. After all, without statin drugs, what would they have to do, other than running their treadmills?
Furthermore, in my December Daily Dispatch (“You might not need that blood pressure drug after all”), I reported on a recent study showing that many older adults continue to be given blood pressure medications after their blood pressure has returned to normal, or even below normal—contributing to poor circulation, strokes, falls, and potentially dementia. (Likewise, newer more expensive drugs approved for diabetes, when given to older adults, can lead to the same kinds of problems due to hypoglycemia.)
These are all issues in older adults that have been given short shrift by the academic-government-industrial medical research establishment. (But don’t worry, their research has been good enough—and only good for—big pharma getting approval from the FDA for its “poison pills.”)
Indeed, the Circulation scientific statement admits to this troubling fact. It states outright that clinical trials have either specifically, intentionally excluded older adults or have admitted only relatively healthy older patients with few complications or impairments related to cardiovascular disease. Despite the high incidence of cardiovascular disease, disability, and mortality—not to mention the devastating loss of independence and decreased quality of life—among this age group.
How aging affects your cardiovascular health
Studies do show that aging impacts cardiovascular anatomy and physiology…as well as other organ systems, including the brain, kidneys, liver, and muscles.
These changes influence the effectiveness of cardiovascular drugs and other treatments. They also increase the risk of complications related to both drug and non-drug interventions.
Therefore, it should not be assumed that cardiovascular studies on younger people actually tell doctors anything about how to treat their older patients with heart disease.
In fact, despite all of the emphasis on “evidence-based” medicine, it turns out there is no real scientific evidence on how to treat cardiovascular disease in the majority of people who actually need cardiovascular care.
This all assumes that the mainstream’s pet theories for cardiovascular disease risk (like dietary cholesterol, fats, salt, and blood cholesterol) ever had any real meaning for anybody in the first place.
In the meantime, big pharma is happy to dole out billions of pills to treat putative “risk factors” in healthy younger adults, most of whom will never have a heart problem. But if they do develop a cardiovascular issue, it will most likely happen when they become much older adults—at which point mainstream medicine has nothing to offer.
But I do have something to offer.
In fact, I’ve been researching natural options for cardiovascular care for decades. And there are far more science-backed solutions than I could fit into this article.
So I’ve started developing an in-depth, step-by-step protocol that will eliminate any so-called “gaps in knowledge” in how to keep your heart healthy at ANY age. I’ve just finished sifting through all of my research to put together this revolutionary new protocol. I will keep you posted on the progress—and release—as it gets closer.
In the meantime, here is a brief rundown of just a few of the safe, effective, and natural options for heart health.
Simple but effective ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
For optimum cardiovascular health, you need to focus on three key factors:
- Controlling your blood pressure.
- Stopping chronic inflammation. Just as it can with any other muscle in your body, chronic inflammation can compromise heart function.
- Lowering your blood levels of an amino acid called homocysteine.
You can achieve all of these naturally. Here’s how.
Vitamin D. Study after study reveals how vitamin D can improve your health from head to toe. And this wonder vitamin may also be the world’s most potent natural blood pressure protector. How?
Well, some researchers theorize it has to do with vitamin D’s unique connection to an enzyme called renin. This enzyme’s primary function is to help regulate blood pressure throughout the body and vitamin D is vital in its synthesis. (I studied renin at the City of Hope National Medical Center under a college research scholarship back in 1973.)
D also does double duty for heart health by reducing inflammation. A study of 957 older adults with high blood pressure found that the people with lower blood levels of vitamin D had significantly higher markers of inflammation compared to the people with elevated levels of D.2
I recommend taking 10,000 IU daily of D3, which is the most bioavailable form of the vitamin.
Coenzyme Q10. Several studies show that this nutrient not only provides energy for your hard-working heart muscle, but it can also help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
CoQ10 is particularly important if you take statins, because it helps support the cellular mitochondria that are poisoned by these dangerous drugs. I recommend 200 mg of CoQ10 a day.
Magnesium. I call magnesium the “miracle mineral” because it can improve your health in so many ways. Not only has magnesium been shown in studies to boost bone health and help fight diabetes, depression, and migraines, but it also is vital for heart health.
Magnesium is crucial for muscle and nerve function…including your heart muscle. It helps create ATP (cellular) energy within your body. And it relaxes your blood vessels, which means your heart doesn’t have to work so hard to pump blood throughout your cardiovascular system.
You can get magnesium in your diet by eating dark leafy greens like collard, kale, spinach, and swiss shard. Seeds and nuts are rich sources of magnesium, as are beans—especially black beans.
But because researchers estimate that more than 50% of Americans are deficient in magnesium, I also recommend supplementing with 400 mg of magnesium citrate (the most bioavailable form) daily.
Vitamin K2. I didn’t fall victim to the hype a few years ago about this supposed “miracle nutrient” that can fix anything that ails you. But I do respect the growing amount of evidence linking K2 to bone and heart health.
The older you get, the more risk you have of calcification within your cardiovascular system—which leads to hardening of the arteries. This is why I recommend never taking calcium supplements, because they can contribute to this calcification.
But studies show that K2 can actually transport calcium out of your arteries and into your bones.
In fact, research shows that healthy arterial tissues have been shown to contain 100 times more vitamin K2 than unhealthy arteries.
The famous Rotterdam Study, which tracked the heart health of 4,800 participants for seven years, showed that the people who consumed the largest amounts of K2 had fewer calcium deposits around their heart. That led to a whopping 57 percent reduction in heart issues.3
And another study of postmenopausal women found that vitamin K2 significantly improved their arteries’ ability to stretch.4
The main food sources of vitamin K2 are fermented foods like cheese, yogurt, and soy. I don’t recommend soy because so much of it is genetically modified, not to mention the other problems associated with it (see the January 2017 issue of Insiders’ Cures for more on that topic)—which doesn’t leave you a lot of choice for your daily K2 ration.
That’s why I now recommend vitamin K2 supplements. But don’t just run out to the grocery store and grab any K2 product off the shelf. Look for products that contain what research shows is the gold standard of K2—MenaQ7.
This naturally derived form of vitamin K2 uses the highest purification available. And it’s the only form of K2 that has been clinically validated to work. I recommend 150 mcg of the MenaQ7 form of vitamin K2 daily.
B vitamins. Nearly 50 years ago, my colleague, Harvard University Medical Professor Dr. Kilmer McCully, first described the incredible connection between heart health and homocysteine.
This amino acid is crucial for the health of your arterial walls. But when you have too much homocysteine in your body, theories suggest it can actually destroy the endothelial cells in your cardiovascular system. That can create chunks and divots in your arterial walls. Cholesterol (which is otherwise an innocent bystander) races in to fill the holes…and becomes calcified and turns into plaque (another reason to avoid calcium supplements, as above).
But a meta-analysis of 12 studies including 34,481 people found that vitamins B6, B12, and folate (B9) significantly reduced participants’ homocysteine levels.5
Research shows that each of these B vitamins plays a key role in recycling homocysteine into methionine—taking a potentially dangerous amino acid and converting it back into a protein building block.
To help keep your homocysteine levels in check, I recommend 30 mg of vitamin B6, 800 mcg of folate, and 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12 every day.
Trimethylglycine. Also known as betaine, this type of amino acid has been shown in some studies to be even more powerful than folate for healthy homocysteine levels. I recommend 500 mg daily.
To read more about trimethylglycine, check out “The heart hazard throwing aging into overdrive” in the November 2015 Insiders’ Cures.
L-carnitine. A Mayo Clinic review of 13 controlled trials found that compared to a placebo, L-carnitine was associated with an astonishing 65% reduction in ventricular arrhythmias—which can lead to sudden cardiac death.6 The researchers cited L-carnitine’s ability to help improve energy metabolism in heart cell membranes.
I recommend 500 mg of L-carnitine daily for optimum heart health.
Ashwaganda, boswellia, and curcumin. These herbs have been shown to be effective at reducing chronic inflammation. Look for dietary supplements that include 400-500 mg of each of these ingredients.
Fish oil. There’s convincing evidence that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are effective at lowering blood pressure and triglyceride levels. I recommend 1-2 grams of high-quality fish oil per day, along with eating fatty fish like salmon once or twice a week.
A balanced diet. Avoiding sugar, simple carbs, and processed foods is one of the most effective ways to fight inflammation. Swap out these harmful foods for plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
Moderate exercise. I know I don’t have to tell you the benefits of swimming, walking, or doing housework or yardwork, every day. Exercising outside in the sunshine can also boost your levels of vitamin D, and directly support your immune system.
Mind-body techniques. The “silent killer” behind cardiovascular disease is stress (not salt, saturated fats, or cholesterol). Among other things, the stress hormone cortisol can boost your blood pressure. Almost 20 years ago I published a paper with Dr. Ken Seaton asking whether cortisol is actually the major hormone associated with aging. And just last month, I reported in my Daily Dispatch e-letter about a new study directly linking stress as experienced in the brain to heart disease (“New research confirms the real silent killer behind heart disease”).
There are many effective mind-body techniques to reduce stress and lower blood pressure, including biofeedback, guided imagery, mindfulness meditation, yoga, and others.
To find out which stress-reduction technique will work best for your individual personality type, take my Emotional Type Quiz at www.drmicozzi.com, and read my popular book with Mike Jawer, “Your Emotional Type.” (You can order a copy of this book by clicking here or by calling 1-800-682-7319 and asking for order code EOV2T301.)
1“Knowledge Gaps in Cardiovascular Care of the Older Adult Population.” Circulation. 2016;133:2103-2122.
2“Vitamin D deficiency is associated with inflammation in older Irish adults.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2014.
3“Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study.” J Nutr. 2004 Nov;134(11):3100-5.
4“Beneficial effects of vitamins D and K on the elastic properties of the vessel wall in postmenopausal women: a follow-up study.” Thromb Haemost 2004;91:373–80.
5“Meta-analysis of clinical trials of folic acid, vitamin B12 and B6 supplementation on plasma homocysteine level and risk of cardiovascular disease.” Zhonghua Xin Xue Guan Bing Za Zhi. 2015 Jun;43(6):554-61.
6“L-carnitine in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis.” Mayo Clin Proc. 2013 Jun;88(6):544-51.