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Free Radicals and Heart Disease

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  • Free radicals play a big role in heart disease...and don't count on your doctor for a cure such as a statin drug.

    I'm Gene Millen, the owner of this website with my wife Bernie. Twenty-one years ago a skilled surgeon sawed open my chest and stitched in bypasses to six of my favorite heart arteries.

    Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S., killing more people than cancer, infectious diseases, and homicides combined. Nearly a third of all victims will not survive their first symptom. Half of all victims won't reach the hospital alive.

    Let's take a quick look at what causes heart disease. In most cases there is nothing wrong with our heart...it was designed to work efficiently for 100 years or more. 

    The common name for heart disease is atherosclerosis...a big word and a big problem. Atherosclerosis is an accumulation of fatty deposits on the inner lining of the arterial wall.

    This fatty "sludge" narrows the arteries to the heart and/or brain, reduces the blood's normal flow and results in scar tissue that causes the artery wall to harden and lose its elasticity. The end result could be a heart attack or stroke.  

    Most of us are aware that a healthy diet and regular exercise reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Not so well known is the damage to the arteries caused by free radicals.

    A free radical is a highly reactive or "oxidative" molecule that can bind to and destroy cell membranes and can damage DNA codes within the cell's nucleus.

    Free-radical damage  has been shown to be responsible for the initiation of heart disease as well as cancer.

    A group of compounds called antioxidants come to  the rescue. The evidence is compelling that antioxidant vitamin supplementation can play a strong role in reducing free radical damage. 

    In a recent double-blind placebo-controlled trial, 520 high risk patients in Finland were given 200 mg per day of Vitamin E, 500 mg per day Vitamin C, both or neither. A 45% reduction in atherosclerosis was found among men who were taking the Vitamin C and Vitamin E combination. 

    The research was conducted by the Antioxidant Supplementation Atherosclerosis Prevention Study and reported in Family Practice News.

    Footnote: If you are taking a "one a day" multivitamin check the amount of antioxidants shown on the label. Most inexpensive formulas (such as Centrum Silver) contain only 60 mg of vitamin C and 45 IU of vitamin E.

    Finding a high quality natural vitamin that meets the needs of both women and men can be difficult. My favorites are XTend Life's Total Balance formulas. They do a great job of "exterminating" heart disease free radicals. 



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