Heart disease remains the biggest killer in the Western world. This is despite billions of dollars pumped into this condition.
Billions of dollars into research, drug development, drug use and cardiology procedures. And yet, all we have to show for it is a slight reduction in deaths from heart disease, but an increasing number of people living with heart disease.
What this tells me is that we are getting better at keeping people alive who have had a heart attack, but we still suck at doing anything to keep people from getting there in the first place. Most cardiologists and primary care doctors would point to the statin class of drugs as the singlemost important discovery in cardiologist ever.
Which pretty much explains why we’re in the mess we’re in because statins pretty much suck at preventing heart disease. Period. (in case you think this isn’t true, I’d invite you to read through my 100+ page eBook on cholesterol and we can talk after that…)
One thing we HAVE discovered from all the billions of dollars that have gone into cardiovascular research is that heart disease is almost 100% preventable.
Seems hard to reconcile that the #1 killer in the Western world is almost entirely preventable. All we need to do is exercise more and eat better.
Except that it’s not quite that simple.
At the surface, yes, healthy dietary choices, not smoking and exercising regularly will eliminate a huge chunk of heart disease in this country. Then there’s the specifics, things like:
- Short burst aerobic exercise instead of merely walking 30 minutes a day
- More healthy fats (monounsaturated, omega-3) instead of trans and omega-6 fats
- Managing stress
- Avoiding refined carbohydrates and eat more whole grains
- Avoiding toxic environmental chemical exposure like BPA
But sometimes the answers are far more complex. And way beyond the realm of the average cardiologist.
You see, the human body has never respected the artificial boundaries of medical specialties that we have created. The examples of neurology crossing into gastroenterology, endocrinology crossing into cardiology and obstetrics crossing into psychology are all over the place.
This particular article is no different. In it, researchers looked at 60 stable patients with mild CHF (half with NYHA functional class I to II) and moderate to severe CHF (half with NYHA functional class III to IV) and evaluated the composition of the inhabitants of the gut. Here’s what they found when these heart failure patients were compared to normal patients:
- The entire heart failure population had massive quantities of pathogenic bacteria and Candida.
You can bet these findings will be the key topic of discussion at the next joint Cardiovascular / Gastroenterology convention.
(Yeah, don’t hold your breath waiting for the invite to this event…)
But seriously, these are some VERY striking differences between the heart failure patients and the normal participants. The question is whether the changes in the gut were the cause or the result of the chronic heart failure.
As with everything, the answer likely lies somewhere in between. We already have strong evidence that the bacteria in the gut contribute to obesity and diabetes. It would not be a big stretch to link bad bacteria balance in the gut with the later development of heart disease.
Personally, I’ll keep an eye on the research as it comes out over the next few years linking the gut bacteria and heart disease. In the meantime, I would do everything possible to make sure I’m living a lifestyle that is consistent with a healthy bacterial flora in the gut as well as avoiding antibiotics in all but the most life-threatening situations.
Your heart will must likely thank you for it.