Wednesday, July 27, 2016


I had a heart attack (acute myocardial infarction or AMI in doc-speak) in February 2015. The pain was atypical. Most AMI victims describe their pain as in the center of the chest (substernal), “crushing” or “tight,” and with radiation of the pain to the left shoulder and/or arm. My pain was sharp, very much like the pain I had when blood clots in my right leg broke off and went to my right lung (pulmonary emboli). It was right-sided, and did not radiate anywhere. Because it did not look like a regular heart attack, I took two aspirin and went to bed to “sleep through it.” The aspirin was a good idea; not seeking medical attention was stupid..

I finally went to a physician a month later. An EKG showed that I had heart damage to the lower lateral part of the left ventricle (inferolateral). A cardiac catheterization showed I have a 30% blockage of my left anterior descending artery (The “Widow Maker”) and an echocardiogram showed damage to a portion of my heart downstream (distal) to the block.

Because the blockage was only 30%, I didn’t need a stent or bypass surgery. My cardiologist started me on the “ASA protocol" for heart attack victims: a baby aspirin a day, a statin drug, and an ACE inhibitor. ASA is also the medical abbreviation for aspirin which is acetylsalicylic acid. Statin drugs like atorvastatin are cholesterol medications that have been found to decrease the likelihood of subsequent heart attacks. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme inhibitors lower blood pressure, relax arterial smooth muscle tone, and treat congestive heart failure, a common complication of AMI’s. Most patients are also started on a beta-blocker. I was already taking metoprolol for high blood pressure and a heart arrhythmia so the cardiologist doubled my dose. I feel like a walking pharmacy but when you consider the alternative…

A similar event recently happened to a friend of mine who was smart enough to get medical attention immediately. According to his facebook reports, he was actually undergoing angioplasty when a big thrombus broke off and occluded a distal artery completely. The cardiac team was able to minimize damage immediately though. His take home message: don’t take chest pain lightly. Better to look silly if it is nothing than to be dead. I heartily agree.

I’ve reconsidered my supplements since the heart attack. If you follow my regimen, please note that these are what I take, and that even supplements have side-effects. For example, I now take 1,000 International Units of fish oil daily. You can substitute with krill oil if you think that squeezing oil out of a fish’s body is disgusting. Fish oil has amazing benefits, including positive effects on cholesterol, skin, neurons, and arterial smooth muscle. But it can “thin” your blood so there is a slightly increased risk of bleeding events. As for me, I will take that risk.

Antioxidants are important for cardiac health, too. I now take 500mg of Vitamin C twice a day as well as 400 IU’s of Vitamin E twice a day. More than 800 IU of E provides no added benefits so don’t waste your money. Take all vitamins with meals. Fat soluble supplements like fish oil and E are better absorbed with meals that contain the greatest amount of fat of the day.

Other supplements I take include Vitamin D (a blood test showed I was low), probiotics, B-complex, and enzymes. I am taking a look at another enzyme, serrapeptase, to see if it will help resolve my clot. Briefly, serrapeptase (Serratio Peptidase) is a proteolytic enzyme, which means that it digests protein. It is produced by bacteria in the gut of silkworms and is used to digest their cocoons. Preliminary research indicates that Serrapeptase may even help inhibit plaque buildup in arteries, thereby preventing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and a resulting heart attack or stroke. So far, the research does seem to be preliminary but I am going to be my own guinea pig. You can order serrapeptase from I haven’t found it in a health food store yet. I don’t plan on taking more than one capsule a day since more than 40,000 IU daily is not indicated.

No matter what the cardiac cath shows next year, I also plan on continuing the ASA/beta-blocker protocol. It is a life saver.

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