As many of you know, February is American Heart Month. Started by President Lyndon B. Johnson back in 1963, it’s an annual reminder to pay attention to our heart health. It’s also a time when I pause and reflect on how far we’ve come in treating and preventing cardiac events.
Back in the 1950’s, heart medicine was in its infancy. Defribillation to bring the heart back into rhythm was a brand new concept, only performed on laboratory animals. Eventually, it was used on people—but only during open heart surgery. Then, in 1959 Dr. Bernard Lown introduced closed chest defibrillation and the concept of cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was introduced. Today, CPR is still saving lives.
Fast forwarding to the 1970’s, we still hadn’t made the connection between smoking and heart disease and Europe was even further behind—even decades later. In fact, I met a cardiac surgeon in Hungary in the 1990’s who was a smoker and hadn’t connected the dots between smoking and heart disease.
During the 1970’s, cardiac interventions were also extremely limited and our only treatment for a heart attack was oxygen, nitroglycerin, and morphine. I will never forget interning at a hospital where a man in the emergency room was writhing in uncontrollable pain from a heart attack—yet the only thing we could do was comfort him with what we had back then.
But The Good News Is that Heart Health Technology Started to Rapidly Advance
During the 1970s, pacemaker technology and cardiac catheterization procedures emerged. Plus, scientists explored the use of cardiac medications, starting with digitalis medications to treat congestive heart failure, as well as long-acting nitrate drugs.
Cardiac monitors also became more commonplace. I still recall the small oscilloscopes we used in the 1980s, watching the heartbeat pattern race across what looked like an early black-and-white television screen.
Now, in the digital age we have seen even more astonishing advances in medical technology. The more we’ve accomplished, the better our emergency interventions have progressed. We’ve learned to identify specific types of cardiac arrhythmias and developed antiarrhythmic drugs and other interventions to treat them; especially the lethal arrhythmias like ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation.
More lifesaving pharmaceuticals followed, including beta-blockers, calcium blockers, ACE inhibitors, and more. Surgical interventions have also progressed tremendously, including coronary artery bypass grafting, valve replacements, angioplasties, stents, implantable defibrillators, and even heart transplantation.
Yet, As Much As Heart Medicine Has Progressed—Prevention Is Still Incredibly Important
It’s no secret that advances in cardiological technology has benefited medicine in multitude of ways and has saved many lives. However, once the medical emergency is managed, it is important to gradually reduce our reliance on high-tech lifesaving solutions and our dependence on lifelong pharmaceutical drugs.
My personal path in developing metabolic cardiology approaches may seem “simple” compared to the complex technologies that have emerged in recent years, but I know that they work. I’ve seen nutrients like CoQ10, magnesium, L-Carnitine, and D-Ribose save lives. I know that the Pan Asian Modern Mediterranean (PAMM) Diet helps to ward off, and even reverse, heart disease. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to natural interventions that can treat and prevent serious heart issues.
As American Heart Month nears its end, let’s celebrate how much we’ve progressed and how many lives we’re saving. Yet, also remember the simple healing modalities at our disposal such as fresh organic foods, the right nutrients, grounding to the earth, exercise, and limiting our exposure to technology.
Now it’s your turn: How has heart health technology impacted your life?