Prevent Cardiovascular Complications of Diabetes!

Cardiovascular Complications of DiabetesDiabetes has grown to epidemic proportions and so have the cardiovascular complications of diabetes. According to the most recent statistics (2011) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes. However, what makes this “America’s largest healthcare epidemic” is that 79 million Americans are in a pre-diabetic condition, where their blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. 

This means that 35% of the American population is either in a pre-diabetic or diabetic condition and this is creating an enormous health challenge. Even just being pre-diabetic raises a person’s risk for heart disease and stroke. High blood sugar causes oxidative stress or damage to your endothelium resulting in the following cardiovascular complications of diabetes: 

  • Poor Circulation Leading to Lower-Limb Numbness and Amputations
  • Poor Kidney Function
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Increased Potential for Strokes and Heart Attacks  

Two Most Devastating Cardiovascular Complications of Diabetes! 

While the cardiovascular complications of diabetes are staggering, there are two that pose the greatest risk to a person’s health and longevity. Statistics can change over time but these two have been pretty consistent. They are: 

  • 66% of Diabetics Have High Blood Pressure!
  • 66% of Diabetics Die From a Heart Attack or Stroke! 

Two-thirds of all diabetics are confronted with this daily reality. It is why Dr. J. Joseph Prendergast, a noted clinical expert in this area, made the following statement: 

Many people still think diabetes is a disease about sugar. It’s not the sugar! It’s the complications!” 

Dr. Prendergast is not discounting the need to control your blood sugar. That’s critically important. What he’s trying to get people and the medical profession to understand is that unregulated glucose (blood sugar) causes high levels of oxidative stress, which directly damages the endothelium and its ability to properly produce nitric oxide – the master signaling molecule of your entire cardiovascular system. To prevent the cardiovascular complications of diabetes you must repair this damage, and any future damage, to the endothelium. 

How to Address Cardiovascular Complications of Diabetes! 

To address the cardiovascular complications of diabetes you must put in place a program to repair and properly nourish your endothelium. This program is in addition to learning how to control your blood sugar levels. Both are equally important. Unfortunately little is done in the area of endothelial cell health.  

Why? Because most people have never heard of the endothelium and most physicians do not understand how to treat it. Briefly, your endothelium lines all of your cardiovascular system. It is only one-cell thick yet it regulates many of the functions of the cardiovascular system.   

This area is so important that the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to three American researchers who discovered how your endothelium converts the amino acid L-arginine into nitric oxide – the master signaling molecule of your entire cardiovascular system. 

How Nitric Oxide Impacts Cardiovascular Complications of Diabetes! 

Nitric oxide impacts cardiovascular complications of diabetes in two extremely specific ways. First, nitric oxide regulates the muscle tone of blood vessels to have a major impact on controlling blood pressure. In fact, nitric oxide is your body’s most powerful vasodilator. It causes the smooth muscle of your vascular wall to relax. This helps to reduce blood pressure by improving blood flow through the vascular system.  

Since 66 percent of all diabetics have high blood pressure, by improving their ability to properly produce nitric oxide you can aid them in better regulating their blood pressure. Because high blood pressure is the major cause of a stroke you will also help them to substantially reduce this risk. 

Second, nitric oxide keeps blood platelet cells from grouping together to form a clot. This helps to prevent heart attacks and strokes. According to Nobel Laureate in Medicine Dr. Louis J. Ignarro, nitric oxide:  

. . . is produced by the body specifically to help keeps arteries and veins free of the plaque that causes stroke and to maintain normal blood pressure by relaxing the arteries, thereby regulating the rate of blood flow and preventing coronaries. Nitric oxide is the body’s natural cardiovascular wonder drug.”  

This means that you can use proven and natural methods to address these two specific issues of cardiovascular complications of diabetes. Proper supplementation with therapeutic levels of the amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline can have a profound effect on repairing and properly nourishing your endothelium for therapeutic increases in nitric oxide production. This would help millions of diabetics to reduce their risks for these cardiovascular complications of diabetes.  

Additional Resources to Help You Understand How to Address the Cardiovascular Complications of Diabetes! 

To help you better understand how the endothelium impacts your cardiovascular health, please click here. 

To help you better understand how the endothelium controls blood pressure, please click here. 

To help you better understand how nourishing and repairing your endothelium will improve its ability to properly improve nitric oxide, and how this directly impacts many of the cardiovascular complications of diabetes, please click here. 

By directly putting into place a plan of action that will improve endothelial cell health and function, especially in the area of improved nitric oxide production, you can substantially reduce the risk for the two major cardiovascular complications of diabetes.  If you found this information helpful then please share this on Facebook and Twitter. 

Together we can work to save a million lives by helping to educate others about endothelial cell health and how therapeutic levels of nitric oxide can directly address the two greatest cardiovascular complications of diabetes. 

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 about cardiovascular complications of diabetes 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.

Nitric Oxide and Diabetes!

DiabetesDiabetes has become a national health problem.  Fortunately, there are clinical studies to show that nitric oxide can positively affect the complications of diabetes.  This blog will help you understand the hard facts, complications, and the potential of a proper nitric oxide / l-arginine protocol to help with this devastating disease. 

Now before we start you might be wondering why an endocrine disease is showing up on a web site focused on cardiovascular health.  The answer is that diabetes directly affects the vascular system giving rise to most of the complications.  One noted clinical expert in this area, Dr. J. Joseph Prendergast says,

“Many people still think diabetes is a disease about sugar.  It’s not the sugar!  It’s the complications!”

Dr. Prendergast is not discounting the need to control your blood sugar.  That’s extremely important.  What he’s trying to get people to understand is that unregulated glucose (blood sugar) causes high levels of oxidative stress which damages the endothelial cells and their ability to properly produce nitric oxide – the master signaling molecule for your cardiovascular system.  To prevent the complications you also need to repair the damage to the endothelium.         

The Hard Facts!

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce insulin (Type 1) or does not properly respond to insulin (Type 2).  According to the most recent statistics from the Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland (updated in February of 2009)17.9 million American have been diagnosed with diabetes.

What makes this “America’s largest healthcare epidemic” is that 57 million Americans are in a pre-diabetic condition where their blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. 

Almost 25% of the American population is either in a pre-diabetic or diabetic condition and this is creating an enormous health challenge. 

Type 2 diabetes in adolescents has increased 10 times over the last decade and now represents 33% of new pediatric diabetes cases where as 20 years ago it was only 2%.  This diabetic problem is even worse for African Americans since they are 1.8 times as likely to develop diabetes as whites.  And, the death rates for African Americans with diabetes are 27 percent higher than for whites.  It is estimated that the annual health care costs of a type 2 diabetic is 2.3 times greater than a person without this disease.

Complications of Diabetes!

If you have diabetes or if you have a family member or friend who has diabetes than you already know how challenging this disease can be.  According to the Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland:

  • Diabetes is a leading cause of adult blindness, lower-limb amputation, kidney disease and nerve damage.
  • 40% of diabetics suffer some degree of hearing impairment.
  • 66% of diabetics die from a heart attack or stroke.
  • 28% of diabetics develop kidney disease
  • 23% of diabetics have foot problems including numbness and amputations.

To put these numbers in perspective, every 24 hours 4,100 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed, 810 people will die, 230 will have a diabetes-related amputation, 120 new patients will require kidney dialysis or transplant, 55 will go blind, and nearly 65% of diabetics will die from cardiovascular disease.

How Nitric Oxide Helps!

Although there is no evidence to date that shows that Nitric Oxide (NO) improves insulin availability, there is plenty of evidence that NO can intervene to help prevent diabetic complications.  A family of enzymes called Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS) generates NO from the essential amino acid L-arginine.  NO is the master signaling molecule for the cardiovascular system, is an important neurotransmitter, helps to mediate pain, and is necessary in wound healing and tissue repair.

Unfortunately, NO production is often impaired in both Type I and Type II diabetics.  Current research seems to indicate three limiting factors:

Limiting Factor 1 is an accumulation of asymmetrical dimethly arginine or ADMA in the blood.  Under normal metabolism of L-arginine a small amount of a natural inhibitor to the NOS enzymes is formed called ADMA.  Normally, ADMA doesn’t accumulate because it is eliminated in the urine through normal kidney functions.  However, reduced kidney function is part of aging and both Type I and Type II diabetes accelerates this kidney dysfunction.  This allows ADMA to accumulate in the blood stream and inhibit the NOS enzymes to reduce NO production.

Limiting Factor 2 is a change in pH from alkaline to acidic.  The NOS enzymes are pH dependent and work best in slightly alkaline (basic) conditions.  In diabetes, glycolysis and ketoacidosis are negative factors that force tissue pH towards acidic conditions.  To compensate the body will use calcium to restore its proper alkaline pH.  Calcium is needed to activate the NOS enzymes.  Thus, this acidic change causes the NOS enzymes to become less active and efficient resulting in a decrease in NO production.

Limiting Factor 3 is adequate supplies of oxygen necessary for the NOS enzymes and NO production.  Since diabetics typically have impaired circulation this reduces blood flow and the body’s ability to supply oxygen to the endothelial cells particularly in the extremities.  Additionally, diabetics often experience elevated blood glucose levels.  This extra glucose becomes attached to the hemoglobin to change its structure and to bind NO instead of oxygen.  Once NO is bound to the hemoglobin it is not easily released which compounds the problem.

Diabetes creates a compounding effect which leads to a multitude of complications.  As this disease causes biochemical changes in the blood stream, kidneys and surrounding tissues thru low oxygen, acidosis, and the accumulation of ADMA it reduces the production of NO.  The reduction in NO reduces wound healing and tissue repair (especially affecting the endothelial cells).  This reduction also limits normal vasodilation which affects the cardiovascular system.  This continues to impair the production of NO which negatively affects neurotransmission and pain.  Thus, many of the complications of diabetes such as heart disease and high blood pressure, retinopathy (eye problems), neuropathy (nerve damage), kidney disease, bruises to the hands, feet and legs, and poor circulation to the extremities (which often lead to amputation) are all aggravated by low NO production.

Two Fold Approach to Improved Diabetic Health!

Most people who deal with diabetes only deal with blood sugar levels.  There is no question that this approach is absolutely necessary.  Unfortunately, the oxidative damage done to the endothelial cells is not addressed.  Yet addressing this problem is critical to reducing the risk for diabetic complications.  Again, I refer back to Dr. J. Joseph Prendergast and his comment at the beginning of this post:

“Many people still think diabetes is a disease about sugar.  It’s not the sugar!  It’s the complications!”    

Dr. Prendergast has 35+ years of experience as a prominent Endocrinologist in Palo Alto California with an extremely large patient base of diabetics.  His clinical studies have shown that if you implement a proper Nitric Oxide / L-arginine protocol you can effectively reduce and/or eliminate much of the oxidative stress to the endothelial cells.  This results in good NO production to eliminate or reduce many diabetic complications.  For example, of the 7,000 patients who have followed his Nitric Oxide / L-arginine protocol none have had serious hospitalizations, no amputations, and less than 1% has had cardiovascular issues.

Monitoring blood sugar levels will always be important for proper diabetic care.  Equally important is properly nourishing your endothelial cells through diet (please read my article about the Acid – Alkaline Balance), exercise, and taking sufficient amounts of L-arginine.  Each of these three lifestyle factors will go a long way to helping your endothelial cells stay healthy and produce the necessary Nitric Oxide to prevent the complications of diabetes.     

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.