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Battling Artery Disease and Stent Restenoisis

I figured out that I had coronary artery disease (CAD) back in 2000, and received a 4-way bypass operation in late January 2001. That’s what really prompted the creation of the SeniorFitness.com  website; I wanted to pass on whatever I learned about how I clogged my coronary arteries and how to help others avoid the problem. For close to 45 years I thought I was doing everything possible to create and maintain a healthy, strong body. And from the outside I looked and felt like the image of perfect health. OK, I occasionally had junk food, and maybe a bit too much booze on occasion, but for the most part I did what the experts said.

The experts said we should swap butter for margarine -wrong! That we should eliminate saturated fats, give up eggs (especially the dangerous, cholesterol-loaded yolks) and use refined (pure) vegetable oils (mostly grain oils) – way wrong! They said we should eat every three hours to keep blood sugar stable – that turns out to be a sure path to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes! They told us that manufactured “heart-healthy” foods based on grains would save us from heart disease – also way wrong! They said give up beef and eat healthy chicken – they didn’t mention the vast difference between natural grass-fed livestock vs grain-fed feedlot beef pumped with growth hormone and antibiotics, or chickens similarly raised in close quarters that are nothing like the ones running around the barnyards from our youth.

As I learned of the metabolic problems arising from industrially processed foods I slowly started changing my diet to focus on real, unprocessed foods as they occur in nature. For the most part, the damage was already done;the issue was whether it could be reversed.

Since then I have had two more visits to the Coronary Catheterization Table for stents. Two of my original grafts closed up over the 13 years since the bypass operation, so in February 2014 they stented one open and abandoned the other, stenting the artery which it previously bypassed by installing three more stents. The middle stent in that series, closed up surprisingly quickly, and in December of 2014 I was back on the table for three more stents, one to reopen the stent that clogged.

That motivated me to understand why stents close up; the mechanism is quite different than building arterial plaque, and is just beginning to be understood as a review of most of the studies in the last two years on the topic revealed. Essentially, the stent insertion crushes the plaque back into the muscle structure of the artery, disrupting the endothelial layer of cells that line the artery. These cells are the ones that generate nitric oxide, which in addition to being the signal molecule that causes vessels to dilate to allow better blood flow and regulates blood pressure locally, nitric oxide also inhibits smooth muscle cell proliferation.

When a stent is installed, the mechanism that can rapidly close them shut is rapid multiplication and proliferation of the smooth muscle cells pushing through the disrupted endothelum to “patch” the injury. This can happen in months, not years, and the primary strategy of using platelet-inhibiting drugs and aspirin isn’t a 100% sure fix, as can be seen by the history of stent failures over the past decade.

I recently added 4 things to my artery war, and I want to give the specifics so you can consider these strategies.

  1. The sodium salt of R-lipoic acid; lipoic acid is a fat- and water-soluble antioxidant. Only the R-isomer is active in the body and the Na salt of this fatty acid is very absorbable. The benefit is drastic reduction of LDL oxidation in the blood and greatly lowered inflammation of artery walls and plaque buildup. It is being looked at as a stent coating to prevent restenosis because it stops the artery smooth muscle cells from proliferating. I found a bulk supplier at HardRhino.com  Much cheaper than capsule products.
  2. A complex that boosts nitric oxide (NO) production – NO is the primary signalling molecule that controls blood pressure and artery dilation. It also keeps artery smooth muscle cells operating correctly (stops them from growing out of control in arterial plaque) and is an antioxidant that prevents LDL oxidation and infiltration into the artery wall. Read more here.
  3. AMPK Activator: This is from Life Extension (which I can supply to local clients), and mimics caloric restriction without the starvation. When I started taking it I dropped 10 lb of mid-body fat in a month or so, without giving it a thought: Find it here. If you click the Related Articles tab on their page you can learn much.
  4. Niagen – a compound called Nicotinimide  Riboside, a form of vitamin B3 (Niacin or nicotinamide) that increases body levels of NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). This is a critical enzyme in the production of energy in mitochondria, but is also the enzyme that promotes the production of Nitric oxide from l-arginine. The main reason NO drops with age is the decrease of the body to make NAD+. Niagen kicks it way up. I called the company and they gave me a wholesale price on 3 months worth: See it here. I have also seen a significant increase in my overall energy level and recovery from exercise; I won’t be giving this up any time soon.

You can see I am still researching strategies for fixing heart disease and doing whatever it takes to optimize the results. If the above strategies work I should not need to have further re-stents, and it may even keep my other grafts open for life.

We all get to die and I don’t much fear that, but I am averse to pain and disability, so I pay attention to what makes life more healthy.

Good Living – Frank

Frank Wilhelmi
Frank Wilhelmi

Frank Wilhelmi – Retired/consultant electronic engineer researches and reports practical strategies for optimizing health and fitness into advanced age. “I have a passion for living life to the fullest, and helping others to do the same.” A rapidly growing body of knowledge now enables us to extend our health and fitness decades beyond popular expectations.

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