What are the risk factors of cardiovascular disease?
Why are we facing an unusual escalation of cardiovascular problems?
What natural supports can we use to protect and strengthen our heart and vessels?
The real pandemic is cardiovascular disease
According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and particularly people of racial and ethnic groups in the United States. One person dies every 36 seconds from cardiovascular disease, and this accounts for 1 in 4 deaths.
In Australia, in 2019, cardiovascular disease was the underlying cause of 42,300 deaths – or 25% of all deaths.
So the statistics a pretty much the same in Australia as USA.
In addition to atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), angina and myocardial infarction (heart attack), other cardiovascular disorders include stroke, hypertension, rheumatic heart disease, myo and pericarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, congenital heart disease, heart valve disorders, aortic aneurysms, arteriosclerosis, and thrombosis (blood clots).
Chronic Stress causes magnesium deficiency and degenerative disease
Chronic or severe stress is a known risk factor for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity and heart disease, because stress is the biggest contributor to magnesium loss and deficiency. Magnesium deficiency leads to metabolic syndrome, which progresses to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.1
Lifestyle can be a killer. Over-indulgence in junk processed foods, alcohol and drugs, or smoking cigarettes are just some of the lifestyle stresses that can clog up your arteries or leave you short of electrical power for the heart. Cardiovascular and metabolic diseases have been on the rise for quite a while, but now we are faced with an extra load.
The new Covid regime has spawned a raft of increasing financial pressures to make ends meet in the face of lockdowns, business closures and job losses. We try to stock up on essentials because of looming supply chain disruptions, yet fears of not being prepared enough still lurk in the background.
We worry for ourselves and we worry about the welfare and health of others close to us. We care about honouring our responsibilities. We also fret about not keeping up with the changing government ‘rules’, about what’s open and closed from state to state, about who is allowed to do what or travel across borders, or if we should book a trip away next year. Concern is even rising about the safety of our children in school.
Restrictions requiring the making of constant decisions, which entail the risk of dire consequences if you get it wrong, can lead to family tensions and arguments with tremendous emotional stress.
There’s little not to be concerned about these days. It becomes very hard for conscientious people to live in a world that is becoming more ‘unconscientious’ by the day. What are the potential health consequences of this Covid pressure-cooker?
As stress hormones increase in the sympathetic mode of ‘fight or flight’ psychological stress, broken heart syndrome, excessive work or exercise, sleep deprivation or other shocks and traumas, the kidneys release extra magnesium instead of recycling it.
Studies confirm that, “Angiotensin II, vasopressin, aldosterone, epinephrine and norepinephrine have all been shown to enhance magnesium efflux and decrease intracellular magnesium.”2
As the food supply is generally low in magnesium these days due to chemical farming practices and food processing, it’s often hard to get enough magnesium to replace what has been lost under stress, and we can easily become magnesium deficient.
It’s a revolving door, a Catch-22 situation, because not only do these stress hormones cause excessive loss of magnesium, but a low magnesium status itself makes us hypersensitive to stress and easily pumping out more stress hormones with any small provocation. Magnesium deficiency also weakens the immune system and primes us more for inflammation.1
The pumping of the heart muscle, as well as flow and functioning of blood vessels, are dependent on magnesium. In fact, all our biological systems are dependent and underpinned by magnesium, including mitochondrial electrical energy and pH balance systems.
The ebb and flow of electrolytes in muscle contraction
Stress hormones cause muscle fibres to contract by pushing calcium into the cell membrane’s channels, which causes magnesium to retreat. The extra calcium and less magnesium in the cell membrane also allows extra sodium into the cell, which is stimulating and dehydrating. Calcium contracts and magnesium relaxes. When it’s time for the muscle to relax again, magnesium moves back in to guard the cell membrane, re-hydrate and remove the calcium from the channels.
This is the ebb and flow of electrolyte movements in accordance with actions of squeeze and relax, squeeze and relax etc.
This is the system that operates when the heart muscle pushes and pumps blood around the vascular system, and the smooth muscle walls of the blood vessels rhythmically move the blood around the circuit. From the contraction of your calf muscles when you run, the sweeping movement of intestinal walls ushering food through the digestive system, to the spread of your smile pushing your laugh lines together, your muscles are made to contract via this kind of calcium action.
Magnesium is also used in the production of nitric oxide, which (after the contraction phase) relaxes and expands the smooth muscles of the endothelial lining of the blood vessel wall in order to move the blood along. Magnesium is also used for ACE2 production, which is another relaxant in the angiotensin system. AND, magnesium can also influence relaxation by suppressing and dampening the effect of stress hormones directly.
The excitation and firing of calcium happens very quickly in neurons of the brain for messaging. You don’t even notice because it’s so automatic. However, if you are magnesium deficient your neurons may not be able to relax and recover enough, making your brain over-excited, so you feel hyperactive and jittery, unable to sit still, manic or have sleep problems and nightmares.
Hard lessons when calcium becomes a bully
When magnesium levels drop too low it tends to increase the action strength of calcium. In this case calcium can become a bully and cause cramps, twitches and restless legs, where you don’t feel in control of your muscles. It can also make muscles feel as hard as rocks, restricting peripheral blood flow, and causing stiffness, which increases risk of injury or repetitive stress damage – as in ‘tennis elbow’ and ‘frozen shoulder’.
Calcium can also deposit on the endothelial lining of blood vessels, making them stiffer and harder, which then drives up blood pressure. Free calcium in the blood can also make the blood thicker and not flow as fluidly, which also contributes to hypertension. We tend to get a lot of calcium in our food supply, but not enough magnesium. Yet magnesium is the one we need more of so it can regulate and control the action of calcium for balance and smooth ebb and flow of our muscular pumping systems.
Another consequence of magnesium deficiency is osteoporosis. As calcium leaches out of bone the lower magnesium levels get, it becomes free calcium in the body, settling in the soft tissue and making us harder and more crunchy, and leading to premature ageing. Researchers have called magnesium the ‘anti-ageing mineral’ for good reason!
Because water is so essential to blood supply and brain function, if you get dehydrated the body releases vasopressin to squeeze the vessel walls and increase blood pressure, thereby moving more blood to the brain. The problem with stress hormones that squeeze things, is that they tend to make you even more dehydrated. This can give you headaches and migraines.
A remedy is of course to drink more water and increase magnesium, using purified and mineralised water. If you have been stressed you will notice how much better you feel simply by having a big drink of water. You will feel the brain neurons lighting up quickly after replenishing adequate water supply.
Metabolism, acidity and pH balance
Without magnesium there is not enough antioxidant support, as you need magnesium to make very important detoxifying enzymes and hormones, including glutathione, superoxide dismutase and melatonin (among others). The magnesium molecule even acts directly as an antioxidant because it has two spare electrons in its outer shell, which it can donate to free radicals (which have electrons missing) to neutralise them.
Why is this so important? Metabolism produces acidic wastes that need to be neutralised to bring pH back to normal in the alkaline range – about 7.35 pH in the blood and tissue plasma. If acids prevail, they start to wear down and destroy tissue cells. Acids dissolve organic matter.
Another side effect of low magnesium is that the mitochondria slow metabolism in order to protect themselves from the acids of metabolism that aren’t neutralised. Consequently, they don’t let more insulin and glucose in to produce more energy. This means cells become insulin-resistant, leading to hyperinsulinemia.
The body however can’t afford to let the extra insulin and blood sugar hang around in the blood for too long, so they are transported to the liver for storing or elimination. Mostly the sugars get converted by the liver into stored fats.
Another side effect of glucose in the blood for too long is that it causes a drop on blood pH, which is damaging to the endothelial lining of blood vessels.
It’s so important to maintain alkaline balance in the blood to preserve the endothelial lining and smooth blood flow, that in the absence of enough magnesium and antioxidants, the body pulls calcium out of the bones as plan B because calcium can also be used as an alkaliser. But it has hardening side effects. Notice that the sites of injury in your body where there has been a higher acidic exposure from inflammation, tend to attract more calcium deposits like residual gristly bits of shrapnel.
If you want to avoid this ageing cascade of calcium deposition, make sure to eat fresh organic foods, drink plenty of water, avoid processed flour and sugar products, chemicals and excessive stress, and get plenty of magnesium.
The food you eat will also determine the kind of microbiome and healthy gut you cultivate. If your microbiome isn’t working to help you digest and break down food, you will be eating, but still starving for nutrition. This produces a revolving door of low energy coupled with the drive to eat more to get energy, but the energy factories are on a go-slow. This piles up extra weight stored around hips and abdomen, expanding the waistline towards a pre-diabetic shape.
Hypothyroid, compounded by magnesium deficiency, can make it hard to produce enough stomach acid to properly digest food, which can lead to SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth – causing gut pain and excessive smelly gas. It can also lead to slow intestinal motility, which means the garbage disposal system slows down and backs up. The bigger waistline then accompanies a bigger ‘waste-line’ of toxins queued up waiting for release, and sometimes getting re-absorbed to cause headaches.
The resulting acidic by-products attract acid-producing bacteria and acid-loving fungi like candida.
The problem with acids is that you can’t absorb enough oxygen into the cells for the mitochondria to make ATP energy. Metabolism starts to slow not only because mitochondria need to be protected from the acidic free radicals, but also because the lower the pH the less oxygen can be absorbed into the plasma.
You end up eating more in an attempt to make more energy, but the problem isn’t necessarily the amount of food you are eating or its caloric load, but rather the problem is with digestion, absorption and getting the nutrition out of the food you eat.
Before you know it, the cravings for more carbohydrates and sugary sweet stuff can become obsessive. The carbs give you a quick energy hit because sugar metabolism doesn’t require oxygen. However, it creates a bigger problem for your health because sugar metabolism produces more acids.
As the digestive conveyor belt slows down and metabolism drops back, the body is in a bind about what to do about the wastes that should be removed. It has to protect the vital organs from toxins and if they can’t be pooped out fast enough, the plan ‘B’ is to sequester them into fat storage cells. These fat cells can attract pathogens and can become inflamed and dehydrated. In order to dilute cells from the acidosis, the kidneys retain more sodium, which causes water storage in the cells holding toxins. This can appear as oedema or cellulite.
Immune system weakness and oxygen deprivation
The immune system also depends on energy production, and therefore on magnesium, which has a primary role in mitochondrial production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – our electrical energy currency. Magnesium is essential in the production of proteins like enzymes, hormones, and collagen, as well as the building of new cells, DNA repair, cell signalling and nerve conduction. Without enough magnesium the stem cells in your bone marrow and endothelial vessel linings produce weaker white blood cells.
The acidosis attracts parasites and pathogenic bacteria which munch on your waste products and produce even more acids from their own wastes and viral load. These freeloaders can even steal your good nutrition.
Your white cells struggle to destroy and eliminate the invaders, as they don’t have enough energetic ammunition, so your body produces more white blood cells to compensate, which then cause traffic jams, extra inflammation, phlegm congestion and clogging up of tubes (including vessels).
As blood cells change their surface charge from negative to positive as a result of acidosis, they attract each other and clump together in rolls. This further restricts oxygen supply due to less cell surface area able to absorb oxygen. Remember, the more acidic an environment gets, the less oxygen can be dissolved and made available. This leads to oxygen deprivation (ischemia) and eventually blood clots (thrombosis).
Magnesium however makes the white blood cells more virulent by supporting mitochondrial ATP, so you don’t need as many to defeat the enemy. As you turn around your nutritional status by increasing magnesium (to support mitochondria), water supply, antioxidants and fresh vegetables, whilst avoiding sugars, chemicals and processed foods, your body starts to respond and clean itself up.
Guided fasting, colonic irrigation, diatomaceous earth, bentonite or zeolite clays, and fermented foods can also help the process. Your naturopathic doctor can design a program to help you get back on the right track.
As your pH changes back to normal you can absorb more oxygen and not have to depend on sugar metabolism. This therefore lightens the acidic load so your body can return to fat burning metabolism, which uses oxygen and is more efficient in energy production. Moderate regular exercise also helps to supply more oxygen in the circulation to improve metabolism and drop excess weight.
Viral load of SARS-COV2 in COVID-19 disease
Viral load, acidosis and inflammation all contribute to oxygen starvation of cells due to restriction of blood supply. This is not confined to the lungs, but a problem with the whole cardiovascular system and pH balance. The inflammation comes as a response to toxic load. If you don’t have enough magnesium or water supply, and you eat junk food and get exposed to chemicals, or you are just very old, it will be very hard for the body to resist the toxic accumulation that presents in COVID-19.
This is why the most vulnerable group to severe COVID-19 disease also have comorbid diseases of diabetes and hyperinsulinemia, metabolic syndrome and heart disease. It also hits hard with people who are immune-compromised, who have cancer, or who are very old and frail. The Covid spike protein (the toxin that produces bad symptoms) becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Those with a healthy metabolism and cardiovascular system seem to get off quite lightly with only mild or even unnoticed symptoms of COVID-19. Children have the cleanest systems and best metabolism, easily creating viral resistance and immunity when provided with good nutrition – and hugs!
SARS-COV2 spike protein blocks ACE2 receptors and harms cardiovascular system
ACE2 plays a vital role in the regulation of cardiovascular and renal function, as well as fertility. Angiotensin is a peptide hormone that causes vasoconstriction (via calcium movement) and an increase in blood pressure. Symptoms of dehydration, toxicity and magnesium deficiency can be a sign of excessive angiotensin activity and deficiency in ACE2.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is an enzyme attached to the membrane of cells in the intestines, kidney, testis, gallbladder, and heart. ACE2 lowers blood pressure by reducing the amount of angiotensin-II and increasing Ang(1-7).
ACE2 is protective of the endothelium. Its deficiency is associated with magnesium deficiency, cardiovascular disease and eventually multi-organ failure.
“Whole body deficiency of endogenous ACE2 (as well as deficiency in bone marrow-derived cells) increased atherosclerosis… [and promoted] inflammation and monocyte adhesion – two mechanisms invoked in lesion formation.” 3 4
ACE2 receptors also serve as the entry point into cells for some coronaviruses, including HCoV-NL63, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2. The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein itself is known to damage the epithelium via downregulation of ACE2. 5
In other words, the Covid spike protein sits on ACE2 receptors, blocking and reducing your ability to receive and utilise ACE2 protein, which is protective of the cardiovascular system. This discovery is promising for future research into ACE2 treatments, or neutralisation of the spike protein (toxin) itself.
Supplements that protect the cardiovascular system
Antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol), vitamin D3, zinc, chromium, B group vitamins, and herbs like garlic, chilli, gingko, ginseng, turmeric and hawthorn. This list is by no means exhaustive. Recommended protocols to cleanse and detox from the spike proteins are here (click). If you have a concerning health condition, please refer to your naturopathic doctor for personal diagnosis, advice or treatments which may be required.
By Sandy Sanderson © 2021
(1) Seelig, M. S.; Rosanoff, A. The Magnesium Factor; Avery: New York, 2003.
(2) Kolte, D.; Vijayaraghavan, K.; Khera, S.; Sica, D.; H. Frishman, W. Role of Magnesium in Cardiovascular Diseases; 2014; Vol. 22.
(3) Thatcher, S. E.; Zhang, X.; Howatt, D. A.; Lu, H.; Gurley, S. B.; Daugherty, A.; Cassis, L. A. Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 Deficiency in Whole Body or Bone Marrow-Derived Cells Increases Atherosclerosis in Low-Density Lipoprotein Receptor-/- Mice. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2011, 31 (4), 758–765. https://doi.org/10.1161/ATVBAHA.110.221614.
(4) al, H.-Y. J. et. ACE2 Deficiency Enhances Angiotensin II-Mediated Aortic Profilin-1 Expression, Inflammation and Peroxynitrite Production | EndNote Click https://click.endnote.com/viewer?doi=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0038502&token=WzI3NTMyOTAsIjEwLjEzNzEvam91cm5hbC5wb25lLjAwMzg1MDIiXQ._ZC-E3WP6BseYgl4Tkr2_9Z9uCs (accessed 2021 -12 -21).
(5) Thatcher, S. E.; Zhang, X.; Howatt, D. A.; Lu, H.; Gurley, S. B.; Daugherty, A.; Cassis, L. A. ACE2 Deficiency in Whole Body or Bone Marrow-Derived Cells Increases Atherosclerosis in LDL Receptor −/− Mice. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2011, 31 (4), 758–765. https://doi.org/10.1161/ATVBAHA.110.221614.