Do you know what the number one cause of heart attacks is? The Mayo Clinic says, “Plaque buildup thickens and stiffens artery walls, which can inhibit blood flow through your arteries to your organs and tissues. Atherosclerosis is also the most common cause of cardiovascular disease.” But they’re wrong.
The number one risk factor for heart attacks and vascular disease is something most people have never heard about before today. U.S. doctors haven’t paid much attention to it. But researchers in Italy know what it is and are very concerned. What’s more, they found that the most popular heart drugs do little to prevent heart attacks due to this factor. So what is this risk factor? Today, I’m going to tell you about it. And I’m going to show you how to prevent it for free.
These Italian researchers conducted a study on 64 subjects who had recently suffered a heart attack. All of the participants were under 46 years of age. The authors found that all of these subjects had high blood viscosity.
Viscosity refers to how thick your blood is and how fast your body can move the blood along. If it’s too thick, your blood moves slower and doesn’t move through smaller openings very well. This reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to your cells and also affects your blood pressure.
In this study, the researchers found that the viscosity of 33 of the participants was still high three months after their heart attacks. And to the researchers’ surprise, the use of standard drug therapy (i.e., statins and drugs to inhibit platelet aggregation – such as Plavix or aspirin) was “without any apparent influence” on their viscosity.
In other words, when doctors accept the Mayo Clinic’s cause of heart attacks, they prescribe drugs to fix the problem. Since they’re treating the wrong cause, the drugs have a limited impact on the patient’s heart attack risk.
But there’s more to this study.
The scientists then looked at the puzzle more deeply. They divided the patients into two groups. The first group had two conventional heart risk factors (smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, or a family history of coronary disease) or less. The second group had three or more. The researchers found that the latter group had higher viscosity than those with less risk factors did. But remember that they previously found that both groups had high viscosity!
That means the most defining risk for heart attack was viscosity, not the conventional factors. In fact, some of the participants didn’t have any conventional risk factors. So viscosity was the only known culprit.
Why Viscosity Is So Important
Here’s a good example of what I mean. Ever try to suck a milk shake through a straw? It’s hard, right? That’s because a milk shake is very thick and viscous. On the other hand, when you suck up water through a straw, it’s easy. That’s because water is hardly viscous at all. So the less viscous a fluid is, the more easily it will flow through a straw, or in the case of blood, though your blood vessels.
With a milk shake, the harder you suck, the more the milk shake moves through the straw. When you suck on the straw, you’re exerting pressure on the milk shake, this makes it move. In the same way, when your blood is too viscous, it forces your heart to compensate by generating higher blood pressure.
This is an often overlooked cause of high blood pressure. Now you can see why taking blood pressure drugs can actually decrease your circulation. That’s because your body needs the high blood pressure to circulate the thick blood. When you artificially lower the pressure with medications, the blood won’t move through your vascular system as well as it should and you’ll suffer.
I routinely check my patients’ blood viscosity by looking at their hematocrit. This is a standard blood test that’s very inexpensive. It will tell you what percentage of your blood is taken up by red blood cells. This is a reasonable test for every adult. Even people in their 30s can have high viscous blood.
So what can you do? Your blood has a viscosity rating just like any fluid. And the more viscous it is (the thicker it is), the less well it will flow through your blood vessels. So, the question is, how can you thin your blood without having to resort to drugs?
How to Thin Your Blood Naturally
Oxidation therapies (such as photooxidation and ozone) have been shown in Russia and Germany to lower blood viscosity. EWOT is another oxygen therapy that’s a terrific remedy for thick blood. The exercise (with oxygen) will therapeutically increase heart tone and force, reducing the viscosity of your blood. And the effects of EWOT are long lasting.
Through the years, my patients have felt that these therapies have done wonders for them. Chelation therapy is another excellent blood toning therapy. It eliminates heavy metals, which destroy the lubricating properties of the lining of your vessels. But there’s a way to reduce your blood viscosity – and it’s absolutely free. What’s more, you’ll be helping save the lives of other people when you do this.
The Free Way to Reduce Your Heart-Attack Risk
The best way to thin your blood is quite simple – just donate blood regularly. This simple process takes out enough red blood cells to dramatically improve blood flow. It also encourages the production of more youthful red cells, which are more flexible and create less viscosity. The result? An immediate and marked improvement in your circulation. Like cancer, heart disease begins years before the event. You can reduce your future risk now.
Donating blood is a proven way to dramatically lower your heart attack risk. The American Journal of Epidemiology published the first proof in 1998. The researchers followed a group of men aged 42-60 for an average of nine years. In the study, 153 of these men regularly donated blood at least once every two years. Of course, some donated blood much more often than that.
Of this group, only one man had a heart attack in that entire time. That’s a 0.7% occurrence rate. Then the researchers compared these results with a group of 2,529 men who never donated blood. In this group, 316 men had heart attacks. That’s a heart attack rate of 12.5%. The ones who did not donate blood had a 17.8 times greater chance of having a heart attack than the donors. I call that very amazing. Lowering cholesterol isn’t even one-tenth that effective!
But How Does This Work?
This is where your blood viscosity comes in. Blood is a mixture of the fluid part called serum, and the actual red blood cells, called erythrocytes. The part of the blood that makes it the most viscous are the red blood cells. When you donate blood, your blood is losing both the serum component of blood, as well as the red blood cells.
When you take out a pint of blood, your body responds very quickly. Your body will almost immediately replace the serum, but it will take it up to six to eight weeks to replace the red blood cells. So for at least six to eight weeks after you donate blood, your blood viscosity will be much lower than it was before. How much you ask?
Another study took a look at the answer to this question. In this study researchers looked at 12 men and 18 women who donated one unit of blood every day for four days. The researchers took blood viscosity measurements before and after the four sessions. Donating blood reduced diastolic blood viscosity by a whopping 32% on average. So one of the obvious ways that donating blood results in fewer heart attacks is that it decreases viscosity, and allows the blood to flow much more easily through the coronary arteries.
But there is a second and perhaps even more important way that regular blood donation works.
As I said, every time you donate blood, you lose some red blood cells. This, of course, will stimulate your body to make more cells to replace the ones that were lost. But these new cells are not at all like the ones that were lost. These newer, younger cells have more flexible cell membranes.
Did you know that the diameter of a red blood cell is about four times larger than the capillary it needs to flow through? This means that in order for a blood cell to flow through a capillary, it has to compress itself down into a very tight tube. In order to do this it must have a very flexible cell membrane.
And that’s just what the younger red blood cells that your body makes after donating blood have. In fact, a 2002 study showed that young red blood cells are 30% more flexible than their older colleagues. The increased flexibility of these younger red blood cells means that donating blood improves circulation.
Donating blood is especially beneficial if you have already had a heart attack, or if you have a family risk of heart disease. It’s also important if you have high blood pressure, since this places you at greater risk for heart attacks.
Obviously, the higher your red blood cell percentage (i.e. your hematocrit), the higher your blood viscosity. A healthy hematocrit for men is between 45-48%, and for women between 36-40%. So do yourself and whoever gets your blood a favor, and make sure that you donate blood on a regular basis. The higher your percentage hematocrit, the more often you need to donate blood.
I recommend men and postmenopausal women start by donating once every 12 weeks. The donation centers will check your blood each time to make sure you’re not getting too low. If your blood count is in the high normal range, then you can give more often. It would be unusual for someone to need to give blood more than once a month. Usually, once every 8-12 weeks is plenty.
Solonen, J., et al. “Donation of blood is associated with reduced risk of myocardial infarction.” American Journal of Epidemiology, 148 (1998) 445-451.
Cliville, X., et al. “Hemorheological, coagulative and fibrinolytic changes during autologous blood donation.” Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation, 18 (1998) 265-272.
Muravyov, A.V., et al. “The microrheological behavior of young and old red blood cells in athletes.” Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation, 26 (2002) 183-188.
Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation 29 (2003).