Homocysteine and Coronary Heart Disease
What's the mystery behind Coronary Heart Disease? Doctors and scientists have applied all their knowledge, talent and resources into fighting coronary heart disease. They've developed dietary guidelines, exercise regimes, even cholesterol reducing drugs.
Yet, heart disease remains the number one killer in the United States!
The question you have to ask yourself is why - with all the extensive and exhaustive research being applied to fight heart disease - are we not winning the war against it?
Perhaps it's because we've been looking in the wrong place and fighting the wrong battle.
If you are at risk for or have even been diagnosed with heart disease, you're probably very concerned about your cholesterol level. You can hardly turn on your radio, pick up a magazine or watch TV without being bombarded, not only by information about cholesterol and coronary heart disease, but also hundreds of ads for prescription medications promising to lower your cholesterol.
But cholesterol may have less to do with heart disease than you think.
Consider this: if heart attacks were caused by high fat, high cholesterol diets, why do many heart attack victims have normal cholesterol levels? Also, French cuisine is notoriously rich in fat and cholesterol, but the French have less than half the heart attacks that occur per capita in North America.
How can we explain that?
Highly regarded physician and scientist, Dr. Kilmer McCully asked himself the same thing.
A Revolutionary Theory
Realizing that the cholesterol theory of heart disease had never been proven - even after 85 years of research - Dr. McCully began to look for a different explanation. Beginning in 1968 and continuing through his practice and professorship at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. McCully developed a new scientific explanation for the cause of clogged arteries.
His theory was revolutionary because it presented elevated homocysteine concentrations in the blood as the unrecognized cause of coronary heart disease and arteriosclerosis.
According to Dr. McCully:
"When there is too much homocysteine in the blood, arteries are damaged and plaque form. The result is arteriosclerosis and heart disease. This happens when we don't get enough of certain vitamins - namely B-6, B-12 and folic acid. These B vitamins are missing in our diets because processing and refining foods (think white flour, sugar, and canning) destroys these sensitive vitamins."
- From 'The Heart Revolution' by Kilmer S. McCally, M.D.
For many years, clogged arteries were thought to be the cause of coronary heart disease, but the clogging itself only comes about as a result of the damage caused by homocysteine. You see, when the homocysteine travels through the arteries, the damage it causes is not unlike a burn or scrape on your arm or leg. When you get scratched in a visible area as it scabs over and heals, your body tries to heal the inside of your arteries in a similar way.
But the calcium that is placed over the wounds caused by homocysteine is rather sticky, and it collects fat and cholesterol until the artery is eventually clogged. Viewed in this way, it seems that clogged arteries are a symptom, rather than a cause of heart disease.
In spite of decades of resistance to the idea, it is now widely acknowledged by scientists that pure cholesterol does not cause arteriosclerosis and that elevation of blood cholesterol is a symptom, not a cause of heart disease.
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