In an instant, a heart attack can change everything without warning. A heart attack is a blockage of an artery which is a vital pathway for blood to be transported around the body.
In America, there are 735,000 heart attacks a year, and about 15% of people who have a heart attack will die from it.1 It is a good idea to make ourselves aware of the symptoms of a heart attack as immediate medical attention is the best route for survival.
How Does a Heart Attack Happen?
Even though a heart attack can occur in an instant, it doesn’t come out of nowhere, it takes many years of damage and issues inside the body to cause a heart attack.
Our arteries are designed to be smooth and allow the flow of blood to happen freely, after all, every second we’ve been alive our blood is moving throughout our body, the flow never stops, and when it does it is a major problem.
A blockage starts with damage to the wall of an artery; this damage can be caused by a variety of things such as free radicals, inflammation, low antioxidants, etc. This damage can be made worse with the presence of small dense LDL and/or lipoprotein-a or Lp(a),2, 3 both of which are influenced by lifestyle and nutritional factors.
3 Nutrients To Reduce The Chance Of A Heart Attack
One of the best ways to mitigate the possibility of having a heart attack is through good nutrition and lifestyle. We can also use specific nutrients to decrease the likelihood of a heart attack. Three that we will be covering in this article are CoQ10, PQQ, and Glutathione.
Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) is a vitamin-like compound which assists the body in a variety of actions. PQQ helps with the cell cycle in the body; we are at a much higher risk of developing health issues like a heart attack.4
PQQ can do this by acting as an antioxidant and scavenging free radicals which can cause damage to our arterial lining.
It also plays a very important role in the production of new mitochondria the power plants of our body.5 Our heart is constantly working 24/7 it, therefore, needs a constant supply of energy without it, our heart cannot work. PQQ can help to keep the heart functionally optimally.
Where PQQ really shines regarding heart attacks contributes to prevent further ones from happening. Individuals who have one heart attack are at great risk of having another, and some of this is due to the damage caused by the first one.
PQQ has been shown to lower the damage caused by a heart attack.6 Therefore, if you are at risk for a heart attack supplementing with PQQ can help to prevent one from arising, if you do have or have had a heart attack it will help prevent another one from occurring.
PQQ is found in most whole foods meaning the better diet we eat the better chance we have at preventing a heart attack. It can also be taken in supplement form and has been shown to be safe to be taken at 60mg for four weeks, and a lower dosage of 20mg per day would be safe to take over a longer period.6
Just because PQQ can be taken in supplement form doesn’t mean it should be an excuse to eat poorly as poor nutrition significantly increases the likelihood of a heart attack.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a crucial nutrient in the body and is vital for proper heart function.7 CoQ10 is a fat-soluble antioxidant which helps to prevent cellular damage.
We all have the ability to produce and make CoQ10 ourselves. Unfortunately, our production capabilities take a dip once we hit our thirties meaning we need to rely more heavily on external sources like supplementation.6
CoQ10 also plays an important vital role in the production of energy6 and statins (a class of prescription drugs) can inhibit the bodies ability to make CoQ10. Our heart, as discussed earlier, needs large amounts of energy to function and if enough isn’t produced, we can end up with heart failure. If taking a statin, it is essential also to be supplementing with CoQ10.
CoQ10 plays an important role in preventing heart attacks in the body. CoQ10 is present in Lp(a) which can be a causing factor in heart attacks. CoQ10 is present in Lp(a) and is thought to inhibit Lp(a) receptor expression, therefore, causing a decline in levels through the body and the possibility of a heart attack.8
Also, due to the antioxidant function of CoQ10, it helps to prevent damage to the arterial walls and the build up of plaque. Individuals with cardiac issues have been identified as having abnormally low levels of CoQ10.9 Supplementing with CoQ10 if we have already had a heart attack can lower our risk of having another heart attack by 50%.10
There are two types of CoQ10 on the market ubiquinol and ubiquinone. They are both CoQ10, but Ubiquinol offers superior absorption and has been shown to be more effective.6 When purchasing a CoQ10 supplement, we want it to be in an oil base, so it is absorbed.
CoQ10 is fat soluble meaning we need to absorb it with some fat present. CoQ10 is a nutrient that should not be overlooked when it comes to optimizing our heart health especially if we already have any heart issues.
Glutathione is the often called the body’s master antioxidant. It is incredibly powerful, and we have the capacity to make it ourselves within our cells. When it comes to glutathione and heart attacks, we need to talk about homocysteine which damages arteries, DNA, and the brain.7
Homocysteine is created in the body from methionine, an amino acid. We produce glutathione our master antioxidant from homocysteine.
However, the issue arises when homocysteine is not able to be converted and therefore stays as homocysteine which can cause damage in our body. Higher levels of homocysteine have been found in heart attack patients.11,12,13,14 The conversion of homocysteine to glutathione requires vitamin B6, and it is not possible without it.
Therefore, is essential to ensure adequate intake of vitamin B6 to prevent a heart attack. Some good sources of vitamin B6 are green leafy vegetables, whole grains and sea vegetables (nori, dulse, seaweed).
Since Glutathione is a master antioxidant, it can also be useful to supplement it to help prevent damage from free radicals to our arteries. Supplementing with glutathione itself can cause it to be broken down into its amino acid components so it can be more effective to supplement with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) to increase glutathione levels in our body.15,16
Glutathione is extremely important and can help to boost our health and prevent many issues including heart attacks from occurring.
A heart attack is something none of us ever want to experience, and there are ways to help prevent one from ever occurring or occurring again such as a good diet and exercise. We can also give ourselves a little boost with PQQ, CoQ10, and Glutathione.
These nutrients do a lot of amazing things in our body and are essential to help prevent heart attacks from occurring. If you think you are at risk of a heart attack or would like to mitigate, your risk look into supplementation to boost these nutrients in your body.
- Knowing the Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_heartattack.htm. Updated June 16, 2016. Accessed January 9, 2017.
- Benoit Lamarche, et al. Small, Dense Low-Density Lipoprotein Particles as a Predictor of the Risk of Ischemic Heart Disease in Men. Journal of American Heart Association. 1997;95:1-4. https://doi.org/10.1161/01.CIR.95.1.1
- Kunihisa Miwa, et al. Lipoprotein(a) is a risk factor for the occurrence of acute myocardial infarction in patients with coronary vasospasm. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2000;35:5. DOI: 10.1016/S0735-1097(00)00550-7
- Ehab H. Sarsour, et al. Redox Control of the Cell Cycle in Health and Disease. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling Journal. 2009 Dec; 11(12): 2985-3011. DOI:10.1089/ars.2009.2513
- Lee Know. LIFE: The epic story of our mitochondria. 1st ed. Victoria, BC: FriesenPress; 2014.
- Robert Rucker. Potential Physiological Importance of Pyrroloquinoline Quinone. Alternative Medicine Review. 2009 Volume 14, Number 3: 269-277.
- Patrick Holford. The Optimum Nutrition Bible. London, UK: Piatkus; 1997.
- Decker Weiss. Part II: Cardiovascular Disease Nutritional Management of Clinical Markers. Applied Nutritional Science Reports. 1999.
- Decker Weiss. Part I: Cardiovascular Disease Nutritional Management of Clinical Markers. Applied Nutritional Science Reports. 1999.
- RB Singh, et al. Effect of coenzyme Q10 on risk of atherosclerosis in patients with recent myocardial infarction. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 2003, April, Volume 246 75-82. DOI: 10.1023/A:1023408031111
- Kharb S. Low blood glutathione levels in acute myocardial infarction. Indian Journal of Medical Science. 2003, Aug;57(8):335-337.
- Israelsson B, et al. Homocysteine and myocardial infarction. Journal of Atherosclerosis Research. 1988 June; 71(2-3): 227-33. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0021-9150(88)90147-5
- Meir J. Stampfer, et al. A Prospective Study of Plasma Homocyst(e)ine and Risk of Myocardial Infarction in US Physicians. JAMA. 1992, August; 268(7):871-881. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490070059042
- Angeline. Homocysteine Status and Acute Myocardial Infarction Among Tamilians. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry. 2005, 20(1):18-20.
- Kondala R. Atkuri, et al. N-Acetylcysteine – a safe antidot for cysteine/glutathione deficiency. Current Opinion in Pharmacology. 2007, August; 7(4):355-359. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.coph.2007.04.005
- Yves Matuszczak, et al. Effects of N-acetylcysteine on glutathione oxidation and fatigue during handgrip exercise. Muscle & Nerve Journal. 2005 November; 35(5):633-638. DOI: 10.1002/mus.20385
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