Sickle Cell Disease – 14 Helpful Steps!

African American Doctor 2Sickle cell disease primarily affects people of African, African American, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Asian Indian ancestry. There is also a growing segment in the Latino-American population particularly those of Caribbean, Central American, and South American ancestry that are affect by this disease.  In the United States one out of every 400 births has this disease.  The most common type of sickle cell disease is sickle cell anemia.  In my companion article “African Americans and Sickle Cell Anemia” I covered a lot of material about the cause and symptoms of this disease.  

This article will provide you with 14 helpful steps in managing this disease.  Plus, new research confirms the importance of proper nitric oxide production in helping to reduce the painful symptoms of sickle cell anemia. 

Brief Overview of Sickle Cell Disease! 

Sickle cell disease is caused by a genetic change in the hemoglobin portion of the red blood cell.  Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein inside the red blood cell.  Normal red blood cells are oval and flexible.  Red blood cells in sickle cell disease have a tendency to reshape themselves into rod-like structures that resemble the curved blade of a sickle; thus, the term sickle cell.  

Sickle cells have a much shorter life span than normal red blood cells.  This results in chronic anemia and reduced oxygen to the tissues of the body.  In addition, sickle cells are less flexible than normal red blood cells.  This presents a problem.  They become trapped in the small blood vessels preventing blood flow to the body’s tissues and organs.  This compromises the delivery of oxygen and usually results in pain and potential damage to the associated tissues and organs. 

Recent Research – The Importance of Nitric Oxide! 

Researchers at Duke University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute recently discovered one of the keys to the cause of pain in sickle cell disease.  Their findings were reported in the January 31, 2005 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Their research showed that when normal red blood cells move through the arteries they release a signaling molecule that tells the arterial walls to expand.  The signaling molecule is nitric oxide.  Nitric oxide causes the smooth muscle in the wall of the blood vessel to relax.  This helps to open up the blood vessel allowing the red blood cells to pass through it.  

The researchers at Duke University discovered that when red blood cells distort to their sickle shape, the walls of the arteries don’t expand.  This distorted shape of the sickle cells, combined with the fact that they tend to clump together, ends up blocking blood flow through these small arteries and capillaries.  The Duke researchers also noted that as the blood pulses, the walls of the arteries didn’t expand like they do when normal red blood cells are present. 

Their research also noted that the degree of nitric oxide deficiency directly correlated with symptom severity for those with sickle cell disease.  This means that the less nitric oxide produced the greater the pain.  The Duke/HHMI study found that when nitric oxide was administered to people with sickle cell anemia their symptoms were relieved.  One of the conclusions from this study was that abnormal nitric oxide processing may be the real cause of sickle cell circulatory restrictions.  In addition to the Duke/HHMI study, several other studies have demonstrated that when nitric oxide is administrated to people with sickle cell anemia their symptoms are greatly reduced.         

1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine! 

In 1998 the Nobel Prize in Medicine was award to three American researchers.  Part of what came out of their research was that the primary pathway for creating nitric oxide in the body came from an essential amino acid called L-arginine.  L-arginine is called an essential amino acid because your body cannot produce it.  It must be brought into your body through your diet.  L-arginine is found in foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, and other proteins.  In fact, L-arginine is considered one of the most important molecules ever discovered.  Columbia University refers to L-arginine as the “MAGIC BULLET” for the cardiovascular system.  

Genetic Polymorphism and the Importance of L-citrulline! 

Unfortunately, there is a genetic polymorphism common to the African-American community.  Many African-Americans produce too much of an enzyme called arginase.  In the bloodstream, arginase destroys L-arginine so that it is no longer available for the production of nitric oxide.  This compounds the problem of not have a sufficient supply of nitric oxide available to help relax the small arterial walls.  This is especially important when the red blood cells change into their sickle form. 

Fortunately, there is an amino acid that your body can convert to L-arginine to help bypass the arginase enzyme.  It is L-citrulline.  A recent paper (January 18, 2010) entitled Potential utility of full-spectrum antioxidant therapy, citrulline, and dietary nitrate in the management of sickle cell disease by MF McCarty discussed this very issue.  Here is a brief but important quote from this paper: 

“Suboptimal endothelial arginine levels, reflecting increased plasma arginase activity and elevated ADMA, contribute to the loss of NO bioactivity in sickle cell disease; supplementation with the arginine precursor citrulline may ameliorate this defect.” 

This means that proper dietary supplementation using the amino acid L-citrulline can help the body bypass the destructive effects of the enzyme arginase so that proper nitric oxide production can be restored.  Since nitric oxide regulates the muscle tone of blood vessels this becomes extremely important in preventing blockages.  Additionally, nitric oxide prevents blood platelet cells from grouping together in a clot which also helps to prevent blockages in the blood vessels. 

14 Steps to Help Those with Sickle Cell Disease!

Understanding the past and most current research will help to chart a plan of action to help those who suffer from sickle cell disease.  The following 14 steps will help in this process.  However, please remember that these steps are for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding this or any medical condition.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.  If you think you may have a medical emergency, always call your doctor or 911 immediately. 

Step 1 – Proper hydration.  It’s estimated that 75% of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration.  This will affect blood flow so getting the proper amount of water on a daily basis is critically important.  And, it must be pure water!  Pop, coffee, diet soda, alcohol, or other doctored beverages do not count.  Your body must replace 2-3 quarts of water everyday.  As a rule of thumb, for every 15 lbs of weight, you need 8 ounces (1 cup) of water.   

Step 2 – Stay warm.  Cold reduces blood flow because capillaries constrict.  If you live in a cold environment, then take extra precaution to keep your extremities, especially fingers and toes, properly protected.  

Step 3 – Avoid high altitudes.  Geographic locations with high elevations should be avoided due to the reduce level of oxygen in the atmosphere.

Step 4 – Exercise.  Intense exercise should be avoided but mild to moderate aerobic exercise can be a benefit.  Exercise improves blood flow.  Research has shown that blood flow across the endothelial cells will stimulate nitric oxide production.  Additionally, exercise will produce collateral capillary beds that can aid in providing alternative pathways for blood flow when an arterial pathway becomes blocked.  Collateral capillary beds are extremely important for those with sickle cell disease.  However, before starting an exercise program, you should always consult your physician.  

Step 5 – L-arginine supplementation.  The body utilizes L-arginine to create nitric oxide.  Nitric oxide is necessary for the proper function of the cardiovascular system especially in the control of the elasticity of the arterial walls.  

Now, before you go out and start buying L-arginine supplements you need to be aware of the dark side of this amino acid.  L-arginine ingested in its pure form tastes terrible.  By itself, L-arginine can have some serious side effects.  Because L-arginine can have negative side effects it must be properly formulated if it is to have a positive impact on helping the body create nitric oxide.  It is critical that the company and the person who formulates an L-arginine product have both experience and clinical documentation to its effectiveness.

From my experience, the best L-arginine supplement comes from Synergy WorldWide.  Their product, ProArgi-9 Plus, was developed by Dr. Joe Prendergast who is Board Certified in Internal Medicine as well as Endocrinology and Metabolism.  Dr. Prendergast is an expert in integrative L-arginine therapy and has been using it in his practice since 1991.  As a precaution, you should discuss this with both your physician and pharmacist especially if you are on any type of medication. 

Step 6 – L-citrulline supplementation.  This step is as important as step number 5 and maybe even more important.  Usually L-arginine provides a 30 minute to 2 hour window of improved nitric oxide production.  By supplementing with L-citrulline that window of improved nitric oxide production increases to 24 to 36 hours.  When properly combined with L-arginine and other important heart healthy ingredients, this dramatically improves the endothelial cells ability to properly produce nitric oxide, the master signaling molecule for the cardiovascular system.  This is an important component in ProArgi-9 Plus

Step 7 – Rest.  It’s important to get adequate rest since stress can have a negative effect on your overall health and wellness as well as lowering your immune system. 

Step 8 – Support your immune system.  There is so much that could be said in this area.  Increasing your consumption of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables would be an important first step.  Daily consumption of at least 500 mg of vitamin C would help both the immune system and liver function.  

Step 9 – Support your liver.  Again, there is so much that could be said in this area.  Adequate amounts of green leafy vegetables with proper water intake are two good first steps to help the liver.  Taking 500 mg of vitamin C will help increase the rate of synthesis of glutathione which is a major component in liver detoxification. 

Step 10 – Avoid people with colds and flu.  Try not to place yourself in situations that allow for infections to occur.  This may require you to use a mask if your work or school environment is compromised with illness issues. 

Step 11 – Immunizations.  Stay up-to-date with the proper immunizations.  Work with your health care provider to set up a schedule so that all the proper steps are taken to stay on top of this area. 

Step 12 – Folic acid supplementation.  Folic acid is a necessary component for the production of red blood cells.  The recommended daily amount for adults is 400 micrograms and 600 micrograms in pregnancy.  If you are thinking about taking a larger amount, then you should discuss this with both your physician and pharmacist.  This is an important component in ProArgi-9 Plus.

Step 13 – Support groups.  Because of the emotional challenges that come with sickle cell disease it always helps to find a support group to share frustrations, challenges, hopes, and successes. 

Step 14 – Family planning.  Due to the genetic nature of sickle cell disease, it’s always helpful to discuss options with a family practitioner who has experience in genetic counseling.  

Because of the genetic nature of sickle cell disease there is no pill to cure it.  This can leave individuals and family members feeling helpless in their battle against the symptoms of this disease.  That’s why it’s important to discuss these 14 steps with a qualified physician.  Together you can develop a plan of action; one that will empower you to have better control over the symptoms of sickle cell disease. 

Together we can work to save a million lives! 

Dan Hammer 

Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry and exercise physiology.  He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years. 
The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam.  The information contain in this article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

African Americans and Cardiovascular Disease!

African American DoctorCardiovascular disease is the number one killer of people worldwide.  Unfortunately, it’s even worse for the African American community.  There are several reasons for this and hopefully this article will help begin the process of changing this sad reality.   To address these reasons I’ve broken this article into three parts:  The Bad News, Several Underlining Causes, and Steps to Decrease Your Risk! 

The Bad News! 

It’s important for you to understand the depth of cardiovascular disease confronting the African American community.  Below is a brief summary of the ailments that directly affect African Americans:  

  • Diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes has grown to epidemic proportions in the United States.  People with diabetes have a greater risk for stroke, heart disease and circulatory issues.  Most diabetes-related deaths are due to cardiovascular disease.  Twice as many African Americans will develop diabetes when compared to the Caucasian community. 
  • Erectile Dysfunction.  Erectile dysfunction affects 50% of the male population over the age 40 and is even greater in the African American community. 
  • Heart Disease.  African American women in the age range of 25-44 have a 2.5 times greater risk of coronary heart disease and African American men have a 1.5 times greater risk than the Caucasian community. 
  • High Blood Pressure.  The number one risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure, and 1 out of every 3 African Americans suffers from this ailment.  The American Heart Association estimates that 28% of African American adults and more than 66% of African Americans over the age of 60 have high blood pressure.  
  • High Cholesterol Levels.  High blood cholesterol is a significant risk factor for heart disease.  Unfortunately 50% of African American men and 54% of women have too much cholesterol circulating in their blood stream. 
  • Sickle Cell Anemia.  It’s estimated that one in 12 African Americans has sickle cell trait and one out of every 400 births have sickle cell anemia. 
  • Stroke.  African Americans are twice as likely to die from a stroke as Caucasians.  The rate of having their first stroke is almost doubled that of Caucasians.  One half of all African American women will die from either a stroke or heart disease.  For those with sickle cell anemia, 11% will have experienced a stroke by the age of 20.  

That’s quite a list of ailments affecting African Americans.  If you look closely at all seven health issues you will see that the common denominator is your cardiovascular system.     

The key for reducing your health risk for these cardiovascular diseases is to make sure your cardiovascular system is as healthy as possible.  This article will provide several steps to address this but before we do you need to understand some of the underlining causes of why cardiovascular disease is so prevalent in the African American community. 

Several Underlining Causes! 

Within your cardiovascular system there is one particular essential amino acid, one critical signaling molecule, one critical cellular structure and one detrimental enzyme that directly impact its overall health.  They are: 

  • L-arginine – Key Essential Amino Acid
  • Nitric Oxide – Key Signaling Molecule
  • Endothelial Cells – Key Cellular Structure
  • Arginase – Key Detrimental Enzyme 

The first three keys of L-arginine, nitric oxide and endothelial cells are interrelated so we will examine them as a whole.  The endothelial cells form the interior lining of all your blood vessels.  These cells ultimately determine your cardiovascular health.  One function of these endothelial cells is to take the essential amino acid L-arginine and convert it into the signaling molecule nitric oxide.  Very simply, you couldn’t live without nitric oxide! 

Nitric oxide is the master signaling molecule of the cardiovascular system.  It regulates blood vessel tone and flexibility.  Its production is completely dependent upon the health of your endothelial cells and an adequate supply of the essential amino acid L-arginine.  Here are some of the benefits of nitric oxide: 

  • Nitric oxide regulates the muscle tone of blood vessels to have a major impact on controlling blood pressure.  This directly relates to high blood pressure.
  • Nitric oxide causes penile erections by dilating blood vessels.  This directly relates to erectile dysfunction.
  • Nitric oxide prevents blood platelet cells from grouping together in a clot.  This minimizes blockages in the blood vessels to reduce the risk for heart attacks, strokes and complications from sickle cell anemia.
  • Nitric oxide promotes vascular reparative mechanisms and is one of the keys to reversing atherosclerosis.  This helps to reduce the damage caused by high cholesterol levels and assists in preventing the vascular complications of diabetes. 

Nitric oxide is literally involved in all cells to help keep you fit and healthy.  It’s important to understand that this interrelationship between the endothelial cells, L-arginine and nitric oxide production is common for all races.  

What is not common is a genetic polymorphism inherent to the African American population.  This genetic polymorphism causes African Americans to have higher levels of an enzyme called arginase in their blood stream.  Arginase destroys L-arginine which is the main ingredient for creating nitric oxide in the body. 

For the African American community, nitric oxide production is compromised on both sides of the equation!

On the front end, the enzyme arginase destroys L-arginine which interferes with the production of nitric oxide.  On the back end, the health of your endothelial cells determines how much of the remaining L-arginine can be converted to nitric oxide.  Unfortunately, your endothelial cells are damaged by high blood pressure, high sugar levels, high cholesterol, smoking, and oxidative stress.  This damage reduces the production of nitric oxide which compounds the problem and increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. 

Steps to Decrease Your Risk! 

Given the above information there are several important steps to decreasing your risk for cardiovascular disease.      

Step 1 – Monitor your blood pressure.  High blood pressure damages your endothelial cells.  If you do not know what your blood pressure is then you need to go to your doctor’s office, local pharmacy or health clinic and get your blood pressure taken.  If you have high blood pressure, then you need to take steps to bring it back into a normal range.  This is your first and most important step.  It’s so important that the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program was established to exclusively address the issue of high blood pressure on a national level.  For more information on participating barbershops, go to http://www.blackbarbershop.org/ .

Step 2 – Monitor your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.  High sugar and cholesterol levels damage your endothelial cells.  Diet is extremely important for both of these areas.  One simple but highly effective step to stabilize your blood sugar levels and help your body naturally reduce its cholesterol levels is to increase your fiber intake.  Including dry beans or legumes into your diet is a quick and delicious way to increase your fiber intake. In fact studies have shown that consuming dry beans four times or more per week, compared with less than once a week, lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 22 percent. 

Step 3 – Stop smoking!  Smoking damages your endothelial cells.  This is a nasty habit that is extremely hard to break.  Part of the process is having a motivation greater than the habit.  

If your very life isn’t motivation enough, then maybe for the men your sex life is! 

Your endothelial cells control your nitric oxide production.  Your nitric oxide levels control an erection.  No nitric oxide no sex!  Every puff on your cigarette is destroying your endothelial cells which lowers your nitric oxide level and reduces your chances of having good sex.  

Step 4 – Increase L-arginine intake!  In addition to protecting your endothelial cells, you need to get an adequate intake of the essential amino acid L-arginine which is found in foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, and other protein sources.  Most people take in enough L-arginine to meet basic bodily needs.  However, when your diet is poor and/or your stress level is high, then this essential amino acid will be lacking.  Couple this with the enzyme arginase that destroys L-arginine and the potential risk for cardiovascular disease is increased. 

Step 5 – Use L-citrulline to bypass Arginase!  Your body will convert the amino acid L-citrulline into L-arginine to help maintain its production of nitric oxide.  This process also helps to bypass the arginase enzyme since it has no effect on L-citrulline.  Having a good supply of L-citrulline provides the body with a 24 to 36 hour window in the production of nitric oxide.  This is important for all population groups but it’s critically important for African Americans especially those with sickle cell anemia.  Unfortunately, L-citrulline is not prevalent in most foods we eat.  Thus, supplementation is usually required. 

Step 6 – Consider ProArgi-9 Plus!  There is a clinically proven nutritional supplement called ProArgi-9 Plus which has the ability to bring in the proper balance of L-arginine and L-citrulline.  This product also combines other heart healthy ingredients to significantly improve the health of the endothelial cells and their ability to properly produce nitric oxide.  The most recent validation for this product is the remarkable results obtain for 33 congestive heart failure patients in the High Desert Heart Institute study.  

Conclusion

You have the power to directly improve the health of your endothelial cells to significantly reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.  And, for those with sickle cell anemia, you can help to reduce your symptoms.  It all centers on helping your endothelial cells function optimally, with an above average supply of L-arginine, and a way to bypass the arginase enzyme so that nitric oxide is properly produced.  Improved production of nitric oxide is critical to helping African Americans decrease their risk for cardiovascular disease!

Together we can work to save a million lives! 

Dan Hammer 

Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry and exercise physiology.  He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.   
The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam.  The information contain in this article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

Dr. Siva Interview!

Dr. Siva ArunasalamOn Saturday, January 23, 2010 Dr. Siva Arunasalam, the Founder and Director of the High Desert Heart Institute gave his first public presentation of the groundbreaking results from the High Desert Heart Institute Study.  This study evaluated the effects of the nutritional supplement ProArgi-9 Plus on the health of 33 congestive heart failure patients.  The results of the study were “remarkable” in how a proper L-arginine and L-citrulline combination, with other heart healthy ingredients, can make positive changes in the cardiovascular system. 

During the weekend event, John Hewlett of the ComoCardio Institute conducted a 15 minute video interview with Dr. Siva.  While this video is posted on the ComoCardio website, I wanted to share it with my audience.  

John Hewlett conducts a wonderful interview that shows a gifted health practitioner who is dedicated to finding methods that can enhance the health of his patience so that stent surgeries can be avoided.     

Please click on “ProArgi-9 Plus” below to view this interview! 

  ProArgi-9 Plus Small Size        

(Please note:  Once you click on the arrow to start the video please give it 10-15 seconds to load properly.)

Video Index – I’ve also indexed the video to help you navigate to the sections that would best address your interests.  

0:01 to 2:00               Introduction and Dr. Siva’s educational background

2:01 to 3:37               Next stages in cardiac intervention with L-arginine

3:38 to 5:05               Why cardiologists don’t use L-arginine intervention

5:06 to 6:02               Dr. Siva’s specialty in angioplasty and stents

6:03 to 7:25               ProArgi-9 Plus study results

7:26 to 8:56               Discussion about Vitamin K concerns

8:57 to 9:45               Discussion about stents and bypass surgery conflicts

9:46 to 10:41             Discussion about Synergy WorldWide’s involvement

10:42 to 11:43           What can these results do to help people

11:44 to 12:24           Benefits to pulmonary hypertension

12:25 to 13:35           Improvements to renal and organ function

13:36 to 14:15           Observations about neuropathy improvements

14:16 to 14:51           Closing comments

Again, I want to thank John Hewlett of the ComoCardio Institute and Dr. Siva of the High Desert Heart Institute for this interview.  The information is both helpful and enlightening. 

Together we can work to save a million lives! 

Dan Hammer 

Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry and exercise physiology.  He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years. 
The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam.  The information contain in this article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

Nitric Oxide and Cholesterol!

Nitric Oxide is the master signaling molecule of the cardiovascular system and plays a critical role in blood pressure and other cardiovascular functions.  Cholesterol is the “glue” that holds your body together.  Sometimes this “glue” and more specifically LDL or low-density lipoproteins can accumulate on the arteriole walls causing damage to the http://no-more-heart-disease.com/endothelial-cells/endothelial cells[/intlink] which leads to the cardiovascular disease called atherosclerosis.  (For a clear understanding of cholesterol please see my page http://no-more-heart-disease.com/cholesterol/Cholesterol Good and Bad – What’s it All Mean?[/intlink])

 

While there are several natural and pharmaceutical treatments available to help reduce cholesterol levels, the most popular method today is the use of statin drugs.  In my post http://no-more-heart-disease.com/cholesterol-and-statin-drugs/Cholesterol and Statin Drugs – Happily Married or Headed for Divorce?[/intlink], I examine the good and bad effects of statin drugs on your body.  While statin drugs can positively affect cholesterol levels to reduce your risk for atherosclerosis they can also increase your risk for other wellness issues like muscle pain, muscle weakness, loss of memory and cognitive function, and a potential link to increased congestive heart failure.  It is this increased risk for several very significant health concerns that have some doctors moving away from statin drugs. 

 

This leads to two questions: 

 

Is There a Better Way?

Can Nitric Oxide be Part of the Solution? 

 

The answer is “YES” to both questions.  Like http://no-more-heart-disease.com/nitric-oxide-and-diabetes/diabetes[/intlink] there really are two issues regarding cholesterol.  The first is the overproduction of cholesterol by the liver and the second is the oxidative damage done by LDL cholesterol on the endothelial cells that line all of your cardiovascular system. 

 

There are many ways to naturally improve your cholesterol numbers which means decreasing LDL or “BAD” cholesterol while increasing your HDL or “GOOD” cholesterol.  On my http://no-more-heart-disease.com/cholesterol/cholesterol page[/intlink] I provide you with 9 methods and I will be offering additional posts on effective natural treatments.  All of these methods usually require a lifestyle change such as exercise to improve HDL cholesterol or increasing the amount of soluble fiber in your diet to lower LDL cholesterol. 

 

Many people don’t want to make the necessary lifestyle changes so they opt out for a medication like Lipitor to control their cholesterol.  Convenience over risks!  While Nitric Oxide doesn’t seem to interfere with the liver’s ability to produce cholesterol, it does help to protect the endothelial cells from the potential oxidative stress that LDL cholesterol can cause.  And, Nitric Oxide (NO) helps statin drugs work more effectively.

 

According to http://no-more-heart-disease.com/dr-louis-ignarro-nobel-prize-laureate/Nobel Laureate in Medicine Dr. Louis Ignarro[/intlink] in his book NO More Heart Disease:

 

“With tens of millions of patients taking LDL cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, you might wonder why NO therapy is necessary for lowering cholesterol.  The fact is, NO therapy is a natural way of either reducing your need for statins or eliminating the need altogether – without any additional side effects. . . The most important message for you to take away from the discussion at this stage is that if you are on statins, you should also undertake NO therapy to amplify your benefits.  If you are not on statins, NO therapy may be able to keep you off them.  Either way, the benefits of NO therapy in the fight against high cholesterol are too great to ignore.  So do not hesitate – start NO therapy immediately.”

 

Bottom Line!

 

An effective and proven L-arginine / L-citrulline protocol will help repair your endothelial cells so that they can properly produce Nitric Oxide.  This can have a positive effect on improving your cholesterol numbers and may help reduce your need for statin drugs.  As with any change in your treatment program you should work with your health care professional so that adjustments can be properly made

 

Together we can work to save a million lives!

 

Dan Hammer

 

The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam.  The information contain in this blogging website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

Nitric Oxide and Sickle Cell Anemia!

Red Blood CellsOutside our body Nitric Oxide is considered to be an environmental pollutant.  Inside our body it is one of the most important, if not THE most important signaling molecule for the cardiovascular system.  It even plays a role in helping to reduce the symptoms of sickle cell anemia.

Sickle cell anemia primarily affects people of African, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Asian Indian ancestry.  Additionally, there is a growing segment of the Latino-American population particularly those of Caribbean, Central American and South American ancestry that are becoming susceptible to this hereditary disease.  It is estimated that one out of every 400 births has this disease.  (Please see my article “African Americans and Sickle Cell Anemia!” for a basic understanding of this disease.)

Recent Research – The Important of Nitric Oxide!

Researchers at Duke University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute recently discovered one of the keys to the cause of pain in sickle cell disease.  Their findings were reported in the January 31, 2005 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Their research showed that when normal red blood cells move through the arteries they release a signaling molecule that tells the arterial walls to expand.  The signaling molecule is nitric oxide.  Nitric oxide causes the smooth muscle in the wall of the blood vessel to relax.  This helps to open up the blood vessel allowing the red blood cells to pass through it. 

The researchers at Duke University discovered that when red blood cells distort to their sickle shape, the walls of the arteries don’t expand.  This distorted shape of the sickle cells, combined with the fact that they tend to clump together, ends up blocking blood flow through these small arteries and capillaries.  This reduces or restricts blood flow resulting in lack of oxygen to the tissues causing pain and damage.  The Duke researchers also noted that as the blood pulses, the walls of the arteries didn’t expand like they do when normal red blood cells are present.

Their research confirmed that the degree of nitric oxide deficiency directly correlated with symptom severity for those with sickle cell disease.  This means that the less nitric oxide produced the greater the pain.  The Duke/HHMI study found that when nitric oxide was administered to people with sickle cell anemia their symptoms were relieved.  One of the conclusions from this study was that abnormal nitric oxide processing may be the real cause of sickle cell circulatory restrictions.  In addition to the Duke/HHMI study, several other studies have demonstrated that when nitric oxide is administrated to people with sickle cell anemia their symptoms are greatly reduced.

One such study was performed in 1997.  Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital released a study suggesting that inhaled Nitric Oxide might successfully treat sickle cell crisis.  This is the term used to describe the characteristic episodes of debilitating pain often associated with sickle cell anemia. 

As a genetic disorder, sickle cell anemia affects the structure of the hemoglobin portion of the red blood cell.  Hemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to the organs and tissues throughout your body.  When the abnormal hemoglobin releases its bound oxygen, it changes from the normal flexible disc of the red blood cell into a rigid, elongated sickle shape.  These sickle cells become sticky and adhere to each other as well as the walls of the tiny blood vessels.  This blocks blood flow to the tissue or organ resulting in excruciating pain and potential tissue damage from the lack of oxygen. 

The Massachusetts General Hospital researchers noted that Nitric Oxide would bind to the sickle cell hemoglobin allowing it to hold on to oxygen more avidly than it usually would.  This would help the red blood cell to hold its normal shape for a longer period of time thus reducing the risk of changing into an abnormal sickle shape.  According to Dr. Carlo Brugnara, director of the hematology lab in the Department of Laboratory Medicine at Children’s Hospital:

 “the novel idea of applying this interesting molecule to sickle cell disease may turn into one of the most significant treatment developments of this decade.”

An Additional Genetic Polymorphism!

Unfortunately, there is an additional genetic polymorphism common to the African-American community.  Many African-Americans produce too much of an enzyme called arginase.  In the bloodstream, arginase destroys L-arginine so that it’s no longer available for the production of nitric oxide.  This compounds the problem of not have a sufficient supply of nitric oxide available to help relax the small arterial walls.  This is especially important when the red blood cells change into their sickle form.

One of the ways around this is to use a nutritional supplement that combines the essential amino acid L-arginine with L-citrulline.  Your body will metabolize the amino acid L-citrulline to yield more L-arginine.  This helps to augment your body’s ability to produce Nitric Oxide and effectively bypasses the arginase enzyme.  Additionally, L-citrulline helps to optimize blood flow throughout the body and promote healthy energy levels.

It’s also important to protect and nourish your endothelial cells.  High blood pressure and diabetes will damage the endothelial cells reducing your body’s ability to produce Nitric Oxide.  This can compound the normal problems associated with sickle cell anemia.  For additional ways to help yourself or someone you know with sickle cell anemia please read my article “Sickle Cell Disease – 14 Helpful Steps!”

Together we can work to save a million lives!

Dan Hammer

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