Transcript: How Do Nuts Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death?
In a language of certainty rarely seen in the medical literature, “All studies conclude… that nuts can play an important role as part of a healthy diet in order to minimize cardiovascular risk and obtain multiple health benefits.”
What could possibly be in nuts that appears to so powerfully cut heart disease risk by about a third on average? The clue is that the “reduction in total coronary heart disease death associated with nut consumption was due primarily to a decrease in sudden cardiac death.”
To review: more than half of all heart disease deaths are sudden, and “most patients who suffer sudden cardiac death are not considered at high risk on the basis of established criteria, and up to 55% of men and 68% of women have no clinically recognized heart disease before sudden death.” Of course they obviously had rampant heart disease, it just wasn’t recognized until they were lying in the morgue. So if there was ever case to be made for primary prevention—starting to eat healthier right now, tonight—before symptoms arise, sudden cardiac death it is, since our first symptom is often our last. OK, so how do we do it?
Our story begins 43 years ago with a fascinating paper in the New England Journal: “Sudden death and ischemic heart disease: correlation with hardness of the local water supply.” There appeared to be “an increased susceptibility to lethal arrhythmias—fatal heart rhythms—among residents of soft-water areas.” So maybe one of the minerals found in hard water is protective, but which one? Well, let’s cut some hearts open and find out.
“Differences in metal content of the heart muscle in death from ischemic heart disease.” On autopsy, the hearts of sudden cardiac death victims had significantly lower magnesium concentrations compared to people that just got hit by a bus or something. So hmm, maybe there’s a connection? It wasn’t put it to the test until recently. Why the decades long delay in testing a potentially cheap, simple way to help prevent our number one killer? That’s exactly the problem: cheap. Where’s magnesium found? Whole grains, greens, beans, nuts and seeds. Who’s going to fund the study? The pumpkin seed lobby? Big spinach? If magnesium was found to be protective, who’s going to profit? Who’s going to benefit? Other, of course, than the hundreds of thousands of Americans that keel over dead every year without even being able to say goodbye to their families.
I’ll cover the new magnesium studies tomorrow.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena.
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