Dr. Stengler utilizes the latest breakthroughs in holistic medicine to help patients prevent and treat cardiovascular disease. People seek their advice on how to balance cholesterol levels naturally without statin drugs. They provide the most recent advances in cardiovascular blood markers including oxidized LDL, toxic metals, LDL particle size, genetic predispositions to heart disease, and in-office EKG testing.
Through the use of diet, exercise, hormonal balancing, and targeted nutraceuticals therapy, the doctors address your cardiovascular susceptibilities.
They also work in conjunction with a local cardiology office for those requiring specialized cardiovascular care. Common cardiovascular conditions include atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, hypertension, arrhythmias, and congestive heart failure.
A Deeper Look
We all have been told, or have read, that excessive cholesterol in the blood accumulates in the artery walls. However, there appears to be more to the story. Research over the past decade has shown that much of the artery problem caused by cholesterol is the result of oxidation. Oxidation occurs when free radicals (unstable negatively charged molecules) damage cells of the body. Free radicals are the by-product of energy production by the body’s cells, as well as the exposure to pollutants and radiation.
Oxidized cholesterol (particularly LDL cholesterol) then initiates inflammation and eventual plaque build-up in the blood vessel wall, which inhibits blood flow through the arteries. This oxidation leads to inflammation and damage in the artery walls. Your body has a defense mechanism against free radicals and oxidation. Substances called antioxidants are an integral part of that defense mechanism. Antioxidants neutralize or reduce the effects of cell-damaging free radicals. Though your body has naturally occurring antioxidant enzyme systems, you also need antioxidants from foods, particularly plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Are Statins Over-Prescribed?
In the July 13, 2004, issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the National Institute of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) published new guidelines for LDL cholesterol levels. According to the NCEP, “These options include setting lower treatment goals for LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and initiating cholesterol-lowering drug therapy at lower LDL thresholds.” These new recommendations were based on the review of five major clinical trials using a group of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as “statins.”
The science behind these new conclusions was challenged by more than three dozen physicians, epidemiologists, and other scientists, together with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). In a letter that detailed their objections, physicians and scientific researchers urged the National Institute of Health (NIH) to seek an independent panel to re-review the studies. They wrote:“There is strong evidence to suggest that an objective, independent re-evaluation of the scientific evidence from the five new studies of statin therapy would lead to different conclusions than those presented by the current NCEP. The studies cited do not demonstrate that statins benefit women of any age or men over 70 who do not already have heart disease.”
In the letter, doctors from the CSPI also cited concerns that were raised after one study showed statin therapy significantly increases the risk of cancer in the elderly. In addition, researchers noted, three of four studies involving people with diabetes showed that these patients got no significant benefit from increased statin use.
And there was another alarming discovery as well. Eight of the nine authors of the new LDL recommendations had financial ties to manufacturers of statin drugs, including the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and AstraZeneca. (Normal medical publishing requires the disclosure of financial ties associated with the authors of a study.)
Authors of the CSPI letter summarized their suspicions about the NCEP report by stating, “The sad fact is that these lifestyle recommendations are being largely ignored, partly because the ‘experts,’ many of whom have conflicts of interest through their relationships with statin manufacturers, focus ever more attention on lowering cholesterol with expensive drugs.” The response from the Acting Director of the National Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute was to declare that the scientific basis was adequate and there was no conflict of interest from panel members.
You should be aware that a new study shows that statin use increases the risk of diabetes in some women by almost 80 percent! Data was analyzed from the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term survey of more than 153,000 postmenopausal women aged 50-79 years. The drugs being taken included all the big ones: simvastatin (Zocor), lovastatin(Altocor, Altoprev, Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), fluvastatin(Lescol), and atorvastatin (Lipitor). Overall, the risk of diabetes associated with statin therapy was an astonishing48 percent! The biggest jumps were seen in white (49 percent), Hispanic(57 percent), and Asian women(78 percent).
According to a meta-analysis of 65,000 people published in Evidence Based Medicine. Researchers found no link between using a statin drug and living longer. As a matter of fact, it didn’t find any relationship between cholesterol levels and survival rates. Even more disturbing, a number of studies have linked lower cholesterol levels to higher death rates.
High Blood Pressure
Nearly one in three adult Americans has high blood pressure. Natural therapies have a lot to offer in the prevention of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Blood pressure can be defined as the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls as it circulates through the body. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher the pressure. When pressure is too high it negatively affects the arterial wall and the heart must work harder. Though it’s normal for blood pressure to rise temporarily from such things as exercise, stress, or emotions, in most people this rise is temporary. But in others high blood pressure is chronic, and if left untreated, can lead to serious medical problems.
High blood pressure can carry such symptoms as headaches, nosebleeds, and episodes of dizziness or sweating. But in most cases, patients are asymptomatic; for this reason, hypertension is often referred to as “the silent killer.” You could be symptom-free until experiencing a heart attack or stroke, or suffering brain, kidney, or vision problems!
Blood pressure has two measurements: systolic and diastolic. These measures are represented as a fraction (e.g., 120/80). Systolic is the top or first number (i.e., 120) and is the amount of blood pressure when the heart is beating. The bottom or second number (i.e., 80) is the amount of blood pressure when the heart is at rest—in between beats. Readings are broken down into several categories:
Normal: Less than 120/80
Stage 1 hypertension: 140-159/90-99
Stage 2 hypertension: 160 and above/100 and above
It is estimated that 1 in 3 American adults has hypertension. Although this disorder can affect anyone, you are at higher risk if you:
• are overweight
• are a man over the age of 45
• are a woman over the age of 55
• have a family history of hypertension
• are African American
It is important to note that hypertension is classified into one of two groups: essential or secondary. Essential, or primary, hypertension is the most common type—accounting for about 90 percent of all cases. The cause is often not identified in conventional medicine. At the Stengler Center, we look at a variety of causes such as:
• eating too much salt, fat, or sugar
• drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
• using stimulants
• eating a low potassium diet
• not doing enough physical activity
• taking certain medicines (e.g., birth control pills)
• smoking (causes a temporary rise in blood pressure)
• having an underlying medical disorder
• chronic stress
• heavy metal toxicity such as lead and cadmium
• insulin resistance
Secondary hypertension is elevated blood pressure that results from an underlying, identifiable, and often correctable cause. Only about 5 to 10 percent of hypertension cases are thought to result from secondary causes. Patients with secondary hypertension are treated by controlling or removing the underlying disease or pathology, although they may still require anti-hypertensive medication.
Medicines can control hypertension, but they cannot cure it. Once started, these medications need to be taken the rest of your life; although in many cases the dosage can be reduced over time if there are concurrent and adequate positive changes in diet and lifestyle and targeted nutritional supplements.