Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon recently suffered a catastrophic stroke. He remains in a coma as I write. This wasn't Sharon's first stroke. He suffered a very minor stroke just a few weeks prior to this one.  You may think that the second stroke was caused by the first. But in fact, the two strokes were very different and had different causes. The tragedy is Sharon could have avoided both strokes.

The first stroke was an ischemic stroke. It was caused when a clot left his heart and lodged in his brain. Immediately following that stroke, doctors put Sharon on a blood thinner. And that's what caused a major bleed in Sharon's brain - a deadly hemorrhagic stroke.

According to the Associated Press, "Experts agree that while the blood thinner, an anticoagulant called enoxaparin, did not cause the blood vessel in Sharon's head to burst, the bleeding would probably not have been so severe if he had not been taking the medication."

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Still, doctors defend the practice of using blood thinners to treat stroke patients. "The doctors were responding to that first stroke properly with the use of blood thinners," said Dr. Keith Siller, medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Care Center at New York University. "That comes with a price. The price is the increased risk of brain hemorrhage, which is what happened in this case."

What does that mean for the millions of American on blood thinners for atrial fibrillation? Are they destined to suffer massive strokes like Ariel Sharon when they're placed on thinners?

It's a very real possibility. While this study on one person proves nothing, it should send alarm bells. Hemorrhagic stroke in the brain is usually far more crippling than an ischemic stroke. The bleed displaces and compresses tissue, even far from where the bleeding occurs. And in the very limited space of your rigid skull, there's just no room for compression.

Blood thinners do more than increase your risk of hemorrhagic stroke. They bring other nasty side effects, too. They stop vitamin K action. Vitamin K makes clotting factors in your liver. It's also critical in laying down calcium in your bones. It's a largely unknown critical factor in keeping calcium out of your arteries as well. So blood thinners are a prescription for osteoporosis. I know many people who developed this scourge after their doctors put them on the drug.

The truth is most people with atrial fibrillation never develop clots. They have a clotting system that's operating normally. Those who do develop clots have other non-heart risks for thick blood. These include deficiencies in nutrients that have been proven to help regulate the body's clotting mechanisms.

I've repeatedly told you of many of these alternatives to blood thinners. But it can be a hard sell, due to the pervasive influence of conventional doctors.  I've recommended these nutrients to my patient with atrial fibrillation for years.  And I have never seen a clotting event in any of them.

So what are these nutrients?  They include omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, bioflavonoids (such as ginkgo), and natural clotting modulators in their diet (such as garlic). And there's an even better nutrient for regulating your clotting system - nattokinase. This nutrient is made from fermented soy. And it normalizes, or optimizes, your blood's clotting system.

These nutrients don't cause bleeding problems because they restore your clotting system to what it should be.

If you have atrial fibrillation, you don't have to suffer the same fate as Ariel Sharon. Before you embark on risky blood thinners, ask your alternative physician for a program to optimize your clotting system. Doing so should ensure that you're more protected from both types of stroke than you would be with blood thinners.

Should I ever get atrial fibrillation, I would avoid the risky drugs and follow the nutrient program I just told you about. I wish Ariel Sharon and his doctors had this information. It could have prevented both of the strokes he suffered.

Yours for medical freedom,

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