Dr. Weyrich's Naturopathic Functional Medicine Notebook is a collection of information on topics of interest to Dr. Weyrich that may be of interest to the world wide audience. Due to limitations of time, not all information that Dr. Weyrich knows or would like to further research is published here. Dr. Weyrich welcomes financial contributions to support specific research topics, as well as copies of non-free access journal articles for him to review on a topic. Constructive criticism is also welcome.

Overview of Myocardial Infarction

Naturopathic medicine is best applied to the prevention of heart attacks - during a heart attack it is best to dial 911 and then administer CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation), preferably with the assistance of an AED (Automated Electronic Defilibrator).

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
  • Obesity
  • 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].

Etiology of Myocardial Infarction

Historical graphs (Figures 1 and 2 below) [King2000] show that the well-known rise of heart disease in the United States over the past 50 years parallels the rise in the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners (Figure 2), and the rise in the consumption of vegetable oils (Figure 1). This historical data do not support the theory that consumption of animal fat including eggs is linked to heart disease.
Figure 1 from King2000 Figure 2 from King2000

Treatment of Myocardial Infarction

  • When treating hypothyroidism Dr. Barnes suggests a very slow rate of increase for persons with existing heart disease with a maximum of 2 grains for persons with a history of heart attack (other practitioners will go up to 2.5 grains). Dr. Barnes recommended not starting thyroid treatment until 2 months after a heart attack [Starr2005, pg 178].

Prevention of Myocardial Infarction

Research has shown that starting estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) in peri-menopausal or early-menopausal women reduces the risk of a heart attack by 30-50%, by protecting against arteriosclerosis. However, if start of ERT is delayed more than 6 years after menopause, this protection is lost. Furthermore, synthetic progestins (but not bio-identical progesterone) reduce the benefit [Quigley2006], [Quigley2015].

Hypotheses regarding Myocardial Infarction

Correcting hypothyroid conditions may reduce the risk of a heart attack by boosting the immune system, which in turn lowers the rate of inflammatory infections that promote formation of atherosclerotic plaques in arteries [Starr2005, pg 36].

In addition to blocking synthesis of cholesterol, statin drugs may also have an anti-inflammatory effect, which may better account from the observed reduction of the risk of heart attack [Starr2005, pg 37].

Studies showing increasing death rates due to heart attack and various degenerative diseases in industrial countries may be confounded by decreased death rates due to diseases that kill patients in underdeveloped countries before heart disease can develop, such as tuberculosis [Starr2005, pg 39].

References for Myocardial Infarction