Hearts Don’t “Attack”
Usually, we find ourselves in a crisis that could have been prevented.
I started my medical career as an emergency room physician. I graduated, with honors, from Texas Tech University School of Medicine after doing a fellowship in Cardiovascular Pharmacology and acting as Chief Resident. One thing different I noticed from my residency at the V.A. Medical Center in Amarillo, TX was the age at which people were having “heart attacks”. Many of these men were only in their 50’s as opposed to 70’s. They were still raising families. As the ER doctor, I found myself having to go out to mothers with their children and give the routine “We did everything we could” speech. The medical literature was solid that so-called sudden “heart attacks” were not sudden at all. These events of blood clots stopping blood flow to the heart (or brain, in the case of stroke) were the end result of years of making choices we know lead to blood clots forming in arteries leading to the brain and heart. The medical literature was also pointing out early warning signs that would allow doctors and patients to know years before hand if a “red light” was on.
Physician Heal Thyself
When I was 35, I had a 37 year old come in with a “heart attack”. That got my attention. I almost didn’t get into the United States Marine Corps because of high blood pressure. That got worse with age and putting on extra pounds. In addition, my cholesterol levels were up and my blood sugar was up to the level of diabetic. I reversed all these red flags for “heart attack”/stroke by changing what I ate and getting more exercise. I then started a medical practice educating others to do the same. Many of my patients were from Pantex and the V.A. Medical Center where blood work is done annually. I would have patients come in with 5-10 years’ worth of lab work. By studying these, I was able to tell which lab numbers best predicted problems the earliest. I have compiled these lab tests into Whether Reports. Male or female, this battery of tests will alert you early on to “whether” problems such as: ”heart attack”, stroke ,diabetes, Alzheimer’s, liver/kidney disease, cancer and more may be in your future. Because these are done in volume, we are able to offer the panel at a fraction of what they would normally cost.
CBC – This stands for “Complete Blood count”. This test gives your doctor information on the primary populations of cells normally found in the human blood stream. These cells are produced in your bone marrow. Numbers too high or too low can also red flag bone marrow conditions such as blood-born cancers. The “white blood cell count” (WBC) gives information on the condition of cells that help fight infection. A high number can indicate infection. Depending on which cells are high, it may suggest whether the infection is viral or bacterial. Fungal overgrowths, such as Candida albicans, may not be reflected by an elevated WBC count. Elevations of particular white blood cell populations can point to an allergic response. Elevations of some populations of WBCs suggest blood-born cancers such as leukemia and lymphomas. The RBC or ”red blood cell count” evaluates the condition of cells that carry iron and oxygen to all other cells in the body. If this cell count is too low, a diagnosis of anemia is made. There are many different causes of anemia from heavy menstrual bleeding, to hypothyroidism, to low B-12, to undetected colon cancer, to drugs used in chemotherapy. If RBCs are deformed due to a genetic defect, a low count may be due to RBCs being destroyed by the immune system. This is the case in sickle cell anemia. Since these cells carry oxygen that needs to be mixed with thyroid hormone and glucose to create energy, chronic fatigue is a common symptom of anemia. If red blood cells are too high, there is an increased risk of blood clots. The third population of cells evaluated on the CBC are “platelets”. Platelets are the cells that assist with blood clotting. If platelets are too high, there is increased risk of excessive clotting. If platelets are too low, there is risk of excessive bleeding.
Chem 16 – This panel looks at the level of substances normally found in blood other than red and white blood cells. “Glucose” tells if blood sugar is too high or too low. Type 2 diabetes is a reversible condition indicated when fasting blood sugar stays elevated above 100. Fasting blood sugar is not the best way to evaluate your blood sugar. The term “hypoglycemia” is routinely misused. When I was an ER doctor and would have paramedics check blood sugars in patients complaining of hypoglycemia, the blood sugar was always normal. These symptoms are caused by hormonal imbalances. Electrolytes are also evaluated on this panel. If levels of sodium (salt), potassium, calcium, phosphorus, or chloride are too high or too low, it can indicate serious problems. Carbon dioxide (CO2) gives an idea of your blood pH. BUN and creatinine give an idea of how kidneys are functioning. Elevated levels may mean poor kidney function. Liver enzymes (AST and ALT) are markers I have come to recognize as early markers for “Toximation”. This is the toxic inflammation we find to be the root cause of most medical conditions in western societies. If these numbers are above 25, it may indicate an overgrowth of Candida albicans in the liver. This form of yeast normally resides in human colons. If there is over exposure to antibiotics, deficient production of hydrochloric acid or a thyroid hormone deficiency – Candida can change into a form that overgrows and moves to other places in the body. Candida thrives on sugar. Because the liver is where carbohydrates (sugars) are stored- Candida head straight from the colon to the liver via a direct route called the portal vein. Once in the liver, these yeast cells will ferment sugar into alcohol. It’s the same process used to make beer and wine. This will cause an elevation in liver enzymes the same as seen with alcoholism. The presence of these invaders will also turn on the immune response of local immune system white blood cells called Kuppfer cells. The war between immune cells and yeast, fungus, bacteria and viruses is call “inflammation” –Latin for “on fire”. Inflammation is indicated by the suffix “itis”. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is more common in dark-skinned populations.
Bilirubin is another test that gives us an indication of liver function. An elevation can cause jaundice – yellowing of the skin and eyeballs (hypothyroidism can also cause yellowing in feet and palms. This is due to a buildup of beta carotene-beta carotenemia. Thyroid hormone is required to convert beta carotene into vitamin A. Beta carotenemia is distinguished from jaundice by the absence of yellowing in the eyeballs.) Jaundice is common in newborns due to immature liver function. Viral infections in the liver, hepatitis, can cause elevations in bilirubin. Elevations in bilirubin are associated with some forms of cancer. Albumin and protein give indications of nutritional status. Abnormalities in these numbers are usually only seen in hospitalized patients.
Hemoglobin A1C (Hgb A1C) – This is a more accurate way to determine if blood sugar levels are too high. A fasting blood sugar is a snapshot that only tells what blood sugar is at the moment your blood is taken. Hgb A1C measures how much glucose (sugar) is stuck to red blood cells. Since it takes 3 months for red blood cells to turn over, the Hgb A1C gives your doctor a 3 month look at your average blood sugar levels. This is another value that I noted was rheostatically associated with medical problems. A level above 5.3 is where I would start to see symptoms. Excess sugar on red blood cells promotes the overgrowth of critters such as Candida albicans. Hgb A1C will be elevated years before you are diagnosed with diabetes.
Lipid Panel – This panel looks at cholesterol, its transporter proteins – LDL and HDL, and triglycerides. These are all made in the liver. Cholesterol is a critical building block used to make memory chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters), steroidal hormones (testosterone, estrogens, progesterone, DHEA, cortisol) and cell membranes. The protein LDL transports cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. The HDL protein gathers up unused, excess cholesterol and returns it back to the liver. The LDL protein can become “oxidized”. Oxidation is the process that makes a nail turn rusty or a cut open apple turn brown (oxidation is mitigated by “antioxidants”). Oxidized LDL is recognized as a foreign protein by immune cells. They will attack oxidized LDL with the war called inflammation. Over time, this process in arteries can cause “heart attacks”, strokes and reduced blood flow to kidneys, a common cause of high blood pressure. Elevated cholesterol is not caused by cholesterol in foods but more associated with high dietary intake of sugar and grains. This will also raise levels of tryglycerides. Elevated cholesterol is often due to low thyroid levels.
PSA – This is a protein produced by the prostate gland. An elevation above 2 indicates infection, inflammation, trauma, or prostate cancer. There is controversy surrounding whether this is a good screening test. The problem revolves around the biopsy procedure done if PSA is elevated above 4.0. Prostate cancers can be very slow growing to the point of not being dangerous. Prostate biopsies are painful (I’ve had 48), costly, and can cause prostate infections. The test itself is a useful way to detect prostate problems early or follow the progress of treatment for prostate infection or cancer. My dad had prostate cancer, so I stated getting my PSA tested in my 40’s. When I saw it gradually rising around age 50, I was able to catch my prostate cancer early and control it without radiation, surgery or chemotherapy. Most doctors are not aware of it but breast cancer cells may also produce the PSA protein. So, PSA is also a screening test for breast cancer.
TSH – This test is used to assess thyroid function. TSH is the hormone produced in the brain in response to low thyroid levels. TSH is not thyroid hormone. If TSH is high, it indicates low thyroid hormone levels. My experience is that this is a very poor test for assessing thyroid function. Thyroid hormone levels gradually start to decline in your late 20’s. Accepted ranges of TSH will not show this decline until thyroid levels are very low. Symptoms of low thyroid will be treated with drugs. I had all the symptoms of low thyroid but normal TSH. I found this to be true with most patients. Thyroid hormone controls many critical processes in the body. One is assisting insulin in moving glucose from the blood stream into cells to create energy and heat. As thyroid levels gradually decline, starting around age 26-28, energy/heat levels start to decline. Candida yeast thrive at lower body temperatures. Overgrowth of Candida is often the cause of the chronic inflammation (toximation) that leads to many medical conditions. Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar (metabolic syndrome) are related to low thyroid levels. I reversed my own metabolic syndrome by adding thyroid hormone and changing to my BALi Eating Plan. Thyroid hormone is critical to normal pregnancies and fetal development. Low thyroid is a common cause of infertility and miscarriages. If the mother’s thyroid hormone level is low during the first 3 months of pregnancy, irreversible brain damage can be done. Even slightly low thyroid levels can cause reduced I.Q. in the baby. Ideally, a TSH should be on record before pregnancy, done between the ages of 16-24. This can then be compared to TSH levels during pregnancy. Levels above baseline should be addressed with thyroid replacement.
Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D3 is actually a hormone rather than a vitamin. Hormones program cells to produce proteins needed by the body to maintain health. One class of proteins programmed for production by vitamin D3 is “cathlecidins”. Cathlecidins perform many functions in keeping us healthy. For one, they directly kill critters like bacteria, viruses and parasites. In addition, they send out a signal to call other immune cells to the site similar to how a bee sends out a signal that recruits other bees after it stings you. Another function of a specific cathlecidin, LL-37, is to encourage specific immune cells called macrophages to gulp up critters like Pacman. An important function of LL-37 in preventing autoimmune conditions is its anti-inflammatory function. If the immune response is too aggressive, autoimmune conditions such as asthma, psoriasis, Crohn’s, eczema, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Grave’s thyroiditis can develop. Vitamin D3 also regulates proteins important in preventing cancer. The Vitamin D Council recommends keeping levels between 70-100.
CRP – This is another protein produced in the liver. CRP levels go up when the immune system goes on the attack – inflammation (Latin for “on fire”). The level of CRP tells us just how big the fire is. It does not tell us where the fire is, just that there is a fire somewhere.
ESR – Similar to CRP, the ESR tells us if there is a fire (inflammation). ESR may go up or down depending on the inflammatory condition. Both are good ways to tell whether you are being successful in reducing inflammation.
DHEA – This hormone is produced by the ovaries, testicles and adrenal glands. It is a building block hormone for testosterone. Low DHEA levels can manifest as low sex drive, depression, bone loss and other symptoms. If DHEA levels are elevated in the absence of supplementation, it can mean overproduction in the adrenal glands. This is seen in polycystic ovarian syndrome in women. It can cause excessive hair growth, acne, infertility, weight gain and multiple cysts on the ovaries.
Ferritin, Iron and TIBC – These numbers assess your iron levels and ability to carry iron. Low iron can cause anemia. Ferritin also falls into the category with ESR and CRP as a marker of inflammation.
Folate – This is a B vitamin that has many functions. Low folate levels increase your risk for several cancers. Low folate, along with low B-12 and B-6, can also cause an elevation of the amino acid- homocysteine.
Homosysteine – Elevations in this amino acid greatly increase your risks for “heart attack” and strokes. This test appears to be more predictive than testing for cholesterol. Elevated homocysteine is strongly determined by genetics. This test should especially be done by those with relatives who have had “heart attack” or stoke at early ages. Elevations are caused by deficiencies in B-12, B-6, folate, hydrochloric acid and thyroid hormone. Correcting these deficiencies will lower homocysteine levels to normal and reduce risk for “heart attack” and stroke.
Progesterone – This hormone, as are all steroidal hormones, is produced in both men and women. Progesterone plays a critical role in pregnancy. Low levels can cause infertility or miscarriages. Progesterone also balances estrogens in the body. Estrogen levels gradually climb during the menstrual cycle. If this is not balanced by progesterone, symptoms labeled as “PMS” can develop. Progesterone protects against both prostate and breast cancer by modulating a protein called “P53”.
ABO Group – This test tells your blood type. This test primarily will tell you your status as a blood donor/recipient.
Uric Acid – This is a breakdown product of many foods and alcohol. If uric acid crystals deposit in joints, it can cause an acute and very painful condition called “gout”. This is the traditional reason for assessing uric acid levels. More recent studies have associated elevated uric acid levels with high blood pressure and kidney disease. Uric acid appears to damage cells lining your arteries that produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is the chemical produced by cells lining your arteries that allow arteries to relax. This regulates not only blood pressure but the ability to achieve and sustain an erection. Increased levels of Candida albicans are associated with increased levels of uric acid.
Cortisol – This is the so-called “stress hormone”. Cortisol is key in allowing us to recover from mental and physical stress. Cortisol also allows us to effectively control blood sugar. Cortisol synergizes with thyroid hormone. Cortisol is key to immune system function. Cortisol and related hormones control salt levels. Low cortisol levels can cause symptoms of low blood sugar, low blood pressure, recurrent infections that take a long time to recover from, symptoms of low thyroid, infertility, poor wound healing, psychiatric disorders and more.