Overview of Myocardial Infarction
Prevention of heart attacks generally focuses on reducing or controlling triggering events and risk factors such as:
- Inadequate supply of oxygenated blood to the heart
- Fluid or electrolyte imbalances
- Arrhythmias due to changes in electrical conduction of the heart tissue
- Certain drug overdoses
- Inflammation, which is marked by elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). While conventional medicine focuses mainly on correcting dyslipidemia, it appears that CRP is a better predictor of future heart attacks than is bad cholesterol (Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol, LDL-C) [Starr2005, pg 37].
- Diabetes (Type I and Type II)
- Tobacco smoking
- Physical inactivity
Results published from the large Framingham Study, which is still ongoing, have led to the development of actuarial data that allows predicting the risk of a future heart attack for specific patient populations, as well as data the effectiveness of various treatments in reducing risk.
The conventional approach to reducing atherosclerosis is primarily by controlling dyslipidemia through the use of statin drugs. This approach has been criticized on the basis that statin drugs may cause liver problems, and suppress the production of essential cofactors such as CoQ10 (ubiquinone) and hormones such as cortisol, estrogen, and testosterone. Nonetheless, studies such as the Framingham Study have demonstrated that, on average, patients treated with statin drugs have fewer adverse cardiac events than untreated patients. However, most studies show little or no benefit in reducing "all-cause mortality," perhaps because statin drugs may produce a countering increase in other causes of death, such as cancer.
Naturopathic medicine uses several other approaches, including supplementation with omega-3 essential fatty acids and hormonal balancing, with special attention to thyroid hormones.
Studies paralleling the Framingham study have shown that correcting hypothyroidism is effective in reducing the risk of heart attack. In a study of 1,569 patients spanning 22 years, it was found that the total number of heart attacks observed in the study patient population was 4, compared with a total of 72 predicted by the Framingham risk calculation for that same population. The only medical intervention used in this study was treatment of hypothyroidism [Starr2005, pg 34], [ Barnes1972], [Barnes1976], [ Barnes1976a].