The hidden culprit behind heart disease--and how you can fight it
Suddenly, the experts all know it; inflammation is a sign of heart disease. The most recent news maker on the scene is a substance called C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a blood protein that indicates the presence of inflammation. It got its big break last November when the New England Journal of Medicine published a study showing that people with elevated CRP levels were twice as likely to have heart problems as those with normal levels.
CRP might only be getting its 15 minutes right now, but the inflammation/heart disease link isn't new. In fact, I distinctly remember discussing this important topic about 10 years ago. But I didn't just talk about inflammation--I also talked about what was causing it in the first place. And one of the primary culprits on that list was (and still is) infection.
Heart disease and the infection connection
Evidence supporting the role of infection in heart disease has been mounting for years: In February 2000, viruses--specifically herpes--were added to the police lineup. The headline from Reuters Health News read: "Chronic infection with the herpes simplex 1 or chlamydia virus [sic] can increase the risk of developing heart disease." (The "sic" is for their reference to the chlamydia "virus." Chlamydia is actually a bacterium--like strep, staph, and those other bad guys you've undoubtedly heard of. And it doesn't just refer to the venereal disease by the same name--chlamydia bacteria can also cause some nasty strains of pneumonia.)
The Helsinki Heart Study, published in the journal Circulation, looked at levels of CRP and antibodies to various viruses in men who suffered a heart attack or died during the course of the nine-year investigation. Then, they compared those measurements to levels of CRP and virus antibodies in men who didn't experience problems.
Results showed that antibody levels to the herpes simplex virus and Chlamydia pneumoniae bacterium were significantly higher in people who had a heart attack or died during the study. CRP levels were also higher among those people.
Dr. Merja Roivainen, the lead researcher of the Helsinki Heart Study, concluded that the "results thus support the hypothesis that inflammatory reaction can be one of the major factors in the [development of heart disease] and suggest that at least two different infections are capable of triggering this reaction."
But those aren't the only two infections that can lead to heart problems.
Another study, this one published in 2001, pointed the finger at some other common infectious culprits, including sinusitis, bronchitis, and urinary tract infections. Of the 826 men and women in the study, those who had experienced some sort of chronic infection were at significantly higher risk for atherosclerosis than those who hadn't.
Where there's smoke there's researchers pointing fingers
Of course, even with all of this new insight, the researchers couldn't help themselves from falling back on their favorite scapegoat--tobacco.
Researchers in the Helsinki Heart Study said that the subjects' CRP levels were also related to the number of cigarettes they smoked. Without any further proof, they concluded this interaction "might well be one of the pathways between smoking and coronary heart disease."
Well, maybe--but what has that got to do with anything? Smoking wasn't even the point of their study, but I'm sure they felt they just had to throw this little non-scientific observation in--since mainstream medical researchers have made it their duty to blame smoking for everything. When something is blamed for everything, it's time to take a closer look.
If smoking is really that bad, and causes everything from cancer to heart disease, why don't all smokers keel over in their 30s or 40s? Well, it turns out that a moderate amount of tobacco smoke is good for you. I know you probably don't believe it--the American Cancer Society has spent billions of dollars in propaganda to make sure you don't--but there are just too many smokers who live well into their 90s in the pink of health for tobacco to be taking all this blame.
Infection is here to stay--make sure you are too
Now that we've taken care of that little piece of junk science, let's get back to the REAL subject at hand: chronic infection and heart disease.
"It may well be that a process that eventually leads to coronary heart disease is initiated in early life after infections acquired in childhood," said Dr. Roivainen of the Helsinki study.
Since these viruses and bacteria are out there causing more and more trouble each day--there are now dozens of published studies (in addition to the two I mentioned above) demonstrating the heart disease/infection connection--wouldn't it be a good idea to do whatever you can to prevent a stealth infection from putting you in the cardiac ward--or the grave?
Actions to take:
(1) Periodic photoluminescence treatments will kill any viruses and/or harmful bacteria in your blood and will give you added resistance against new invaders. Just a quick refresher: Photoluminescence involves having a portion of your blood withdrawn, exposed to ultraviolet light, then re-injected back into your body. It can be hard to find, but if you do enough digging you should be able to track down at least a handful of sources.
Start by contacting The Foundation for Light Therapy (561- 274 -7078; www.fflt.org) or Natural Healing Centers, Inc. (574-271-9444; www.natural-healing-centers.com). These organizations can provide you with a list of international and U.S. clinics that perform photoluminescence. (Please note that I have no information on or connection with any of the specific clinics or physicians listed.)
(2) Consider taking some natural immune-boosting supplements, like echinacea or lactoferrin, as well as a good multivitamin that contains well above the recommended daily allowances of most nutrients. These will help prepare your body and, more specifically, your immune system to fight any viruses or bacteria that might come your way.
You can find all of these at your local health food store, or, for your multi, you might want to try the formulation I recommend, called Ultimate Daily Support. You can order it from Real Advantage by calling (800)723-7318 or (203)699-3614. (Ask for code DAILYRA.) RH
"Infections, inflammation, and the risk of coronary heart disease," Circulation 2000; 101(3): 252-257
"Infections may increase risk of heart disease," Reuters Health News (www.reuters.com), 2/8/00
"Infection possible heart disease risk," CNN (www.cnn.com), 2/26/01
"Chronic infections and the risk of carotid atherosclerosis: Prospective results from a large population study," Circulation 2001; 103(8): 1,064-1,070