Low bone mineral density increases risk for heart failure

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doctor checking heart beat(NaturalHealth365) Long known associated with brittle bones and other complications of osteoporosis, low bone mineral density (BMD) is now clearly associated with an increased risk to heart failure, according to findings published earlier this year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

This is no small problem when you consider the fact that an osteoporotic fracture occurs every 3 seconds and heart failure affects over 23 million people – worldwide.

What is the connection between BMD and heart failure?

The study used broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA) to measure bone mineral density in the heels of 13,666 healthy individuals and monitored them for heart failure events for a mean of 9.3 years. The findings were noteworthy.

With every one standard deviation rise in BUA, researchers observed a 23 percent reduction in heart failure. That correlation was observed despite adjustment for factors such as gender and age, as well as physical conditions such as blood pressure, body mass index and diabetes, or lifestyle habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption and physical activity.

Researchers also excluded patients with a history of osteoporosis or bone fracture. Separate analyses were completed for those using steroids, other anti-inflammatory drugs, and diuretics, or calcium and vitamin D supplements, respectively.

Is your cardiologist up to speed with the latest recommendations?

Dr. Roman Pfister, Heart Center of the University of Cologne, Germany, served as lead author on the study and wrote that the results signal a need for cardiac assessment in those suffering from reduced bone mineral density. He expected the findings to spur further investigation of a possible shared pathophysiology and exploration of underlying biological processes that contribute to the observed link between bone density and heart condition.

Osteoporosis and heart disease are preventable with a healthy, plant-based diet rich in greens, healthy fats and proteins. Of course, generally speaking, small amounts of animal fats and protein can be good for the body – but know the source of your food. In other words, avoid unwanted chemicals, pesticides and genetically modified food ingredients.

Osteoporosis is known to affect about 52 million people in the United States alone, making these latest findings of major clinical significance. Currently, screening for the disease, which is thought to stem from deficiency in bone minerals and hormonal changes, is recommended for women 65 years of age or older, as well as younger women who are thought to be of greater risk for the disease.

This latest study may indicate screenings are warranted for younger women where there is already greater risk of cardiac disease as well, and may serve as a marker for future heart failure risk. In addition, cardiac assessments are likely warranted in those found to have reduced bone mineral density.

The best way to naturally improve bone density and avoid heart disease

To improve bone mineral density, your diet (and lifestyle) is the best way to maintain strong, healthy bones. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, these are the four best ways to improve bone health:

  • Exercise to maintain bone integrity.
  • Get sunlight exposure for vitamin D production.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables to keep calcium in bone.
  • Get calcium from plant-based food sources, like leafy green vegetables (i.e. kale and collard greens) and beans.

According to the latest findings, calcium supplementation may offer deadly side effects.  And, in terms of vitamin D, new research suggests that to increase bone strength and reduce fractures, the current recommendation of 400 IU of vitamin D falls woefully short. In fact, according to Harvard Medical School, getting 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D per day is necessary to prevent a loss of bone mineral density.

Editor’s note: The NaturalHealth365 Store offers the highest quality vitamin D/K2 supplement on the market. Click here to learn more.

Vitamin K2 has also been shown to be an important factor in improving bone strength by binding calcium and other minerals to bone. In a two-year study published in 2000 in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, Japanese researchers observed that subjects receiving supplemental vitamin K2 showed 52 percent fewer incidences of fractures of the vertebrae, compared with those patients who were not provided with the supplement.

Obviously, if you’re suffering with bone health issues or cardiovascular disease, our best suggestion would be to find a healthcare provider with experience in natural protocols and procedures for optimal results.


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  • Norman Frodsham

    I believe you have made a good point about bone density and a connection to heart disease, but I can’t help thinking that you have missed out the most import aspect of heart disease and stroke – That is, that if the red blood cell’s are “very well oxygenated” a heart attack and a stroke will NOT occur.

    • Alan Sellen RMT.

      I believe you are correct, to a point, but if those RBC’s can’t get to your brain cells or heart muscle in sufficient quantities, then a stroke or heart attack is inevitable. You must maintain healthy undamaged blood vessels and to do that we humans require regular, moderate (non-burning) reasonably high % UVB exposure, that is, exposure in the range of 5% – 10% UVB. Lighter pigmented skin is happier with lower range UVB (5%), darker pigmented skin needs higher UVB % ie. 10%. If one utilizes an indoor tanning unit, choose the right lamps for your skin type. This will keep the heliotherapy or tanning times roughly equal ie. 10 – 20 minutes for a light skinned person under 5% UVB 100 watt lamps and similar times for a dark skinned individual utilizing 9% – 10% UVB 100 watt lamps. UVB up-regulates the production of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) and this hormone maintains the optimal thickness of the endothelial lining of the blood vessels. Combine that with the increased vitamin d production and calcium absorption and you have the ingredients you need to build and maintain a healthy thickness and strongly attached endothelial lining. The structures that the endothelial cells use to bind to their neighbors function not unlike Velcro. They are called cadherins. They are composed of calcium and vitamin d, hence the name. They grow out of the external cell wall and mingle with similar structures growing out of the adjacent cells. They create a strong, flexible and to a certain extent porous lining to the arteries and veins and in the case of the capillaries, which are literally only one endothelial cell thick, they are the only barrier that prevents all but one type of actual blood cell from leaking out of the capillary blood vessels. This network of endothelial cells and their cadherin structures allow oxygen and carbon-dioxide along with nutrients and waste to pass through but keep actual blood and immune cells contained inside the vessels. All blood cells except a certain type of immune cell, that being the polymorphonuclear leukocyte. This immune cell has the ability to change its shape and squeeze out through the tiny gaps between the cadherin structures of the endothelial cells and move into the tissue beds. There they go semi-dormant and wait for something bad to happen ie. a cut or puncture in the skin which introduces bacteria etc. into the wound. They are the first immune cells to arrive on site because they are already there. They are also equipped with all the information they need to identify every cell in our bodies and they know that they are NOT TO ATTACK any of those cells. When this system is working properly no auto-immune disease will arise. When gaps form in the cadherin structure mesh of the capillary vessels, you must remember that this portion of the vascular system is only one cell thick so there is no back up, no redundancy to prevent the wrong type of immune cells from leaking out of the capillaries and enter the tissue beds. None of these other types of immune cells are equipped with the information they need to function in an extra-vascular environment and to them every normal human body cell they see outside the blood vessels must be an enemy virus or bacteria, so they attack. This is the true cause of auto-immune disease. Their job is to remain inside the blood vessels and act as the last line of defense against invading viruses and bacteria and since they normally spend their entire lives contained within the blood vessels, the only other types of cells they recognize are other blood cells and the vascular endothelial lining of the arteries, veins and capillaries. It is not the immune system running amok that causes autoimmune diseases like MS, ALS, RA, DM etc., it is a case of the wrong type of immune cells being allowed to escape from the blood vessels and when that happens they just do what they are supposed to do which is to attack anything they do not recognize. When you don’t get enough high UVB sunlight you can’t maintain the integrity of the one cell thick capillary endothelial lining because the body has to cannibalize the cadherins to extract the vitamin d and calcium for other more high priority functions like keeping your heart and diaphragm from cramping up, and keeping your immune system strong to stop infectious viruses and bacteria from killing you. Sun is Life. Don’t be afraid of it, but do respect its power. Repeated severe sunburns can cause skin cancer, usually non-melanoma skin cancer, however, on the other hand, not enough high UVB sunlight on a regular moderate basis can also cause skin cancer and unfortunately the type most often contracted, in that case, is MM or malignant melanoma which is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. When high UVB noonday sun is unavailable ie. in winter (October 1st to March 31st) for all of Canada and the upper 2/3 of the USA then the only viable alternative is to make use of an indoor tanning salon, preferably one that is Smart Tan Certified. DO NOT USE HIGH PRESSURE FACE TANNER TYPE BULBS as they just cause your skin to become very dark, leathery and wrinkled . Ask the proprietor about their low pressure beds or stand-up booths. These units typically utilize fluorescent bulbs of 100 – 160 watts. Tan as often as possible but not more than once per day and NEVER let yourself burn. Kids especially should be out in the sun or indoor tanning daily because their child and teenage growth years require huge amounts of vitamin d production and this allows for maximal mineral absorption for bone growth and the prevention of growing pains or teenage osteoporosis. The high UVB exposure also optimizes other hormones and neurotransmitters such as serotonin, melatonin, dopamine, nor-epinephrine, beta-endorphins, testosterone, estrogen,

    • Alan Sellen RMT.

      Something happened and I was unable to finish the sentence to my previous post which may show up below. I was listing some of the hormone and neurotransmitters up-regulated by high UVB sunlight and the final one that I could remember after estrogen was acetylcholine. These are all involved with maintenance and repair, nerve function, motor control, pain control, prevention of depression etc., etc. One last thing, the “skin like” vascular endothelial lining cells produce a gaseous substance called NO (nitric oxide) and if you check the latest research the release of these nutrients into the blood stream is up-regulated by UVA exposure to the skin. These nutrients are derived from green leafy veggies and stored as nitrate in the subcutaneous body fat. When the skin is irradiated by UVA, a process similar to the oxidation of melanin in the skin occurs deeper down and this process both releases nitrate and converts it to nitrite (NO2 is converted to NO3). The nutrient, nitrite, is absorbed by the vascular endothelial cells and converted into NO plus O2 (nitric oxide and oxygen). The NO chemically induces the three layers of vascular smooth muscle imbedded in the outer arterial walls to relax and in so doing allow the walls of the arteries to stretch to their maximum potential thus minimizing resistance to the tsunami like waves or pulses of blood leaving the heart. The more these three layers of muscle relax the better they are able to absorb the O2 produced in the chemical reaction I just described above and also that carried by the RBC’s, along with the nutrients (glucose) to power the contractile phase of the arterial blood transport process. Think about squeezing a sponge in your fist and holding it under water. As long as the sponge stays contracted in your fist it will not absorb any water, but as soon as you release the sponge and it expands it will absorb lots of water “like a sponge”. The three layers of vascular smooth muscle in the artery walls assist the heart by contracting as soon as the crest of the wave of blood passes any particular point along the artery. In so doing the artery actually assists the heart by pushing the blood along to its destination. Properly functioning arteries probably do about 30% – 40 % of the work in transporting the blood. If the arteries aren’t working properly because you are not getting enough high UVB sunlight to maintain the optimal thickness of the endothelial lining, so that you have lots of NO manufacturing capability, then the muscles can’t relax completely and your arteries stay constricted. This constriction increases blood pressure and also the velocity of the blood as it flows through the arteries. This situation damages the endothelium (tears to the lining due to delamination and buffeting, think of a flag flapping hard in a strong breeze) and leads to a scab being laid down in a process virtually identical to when you skin your knee. This scab is known as plaque in the arteries. The good news is that these damaged areas can all be healed just like the skin on the outside of the body heals itself, but it takes regular high UVB sunlight to repair the problem. You have to gradually rebuild the endothelial lining by optimizing your VEGF production, and boost your proper nutrient intake. This will relax the artery walls and bring your BP down. By the way, don’t be fooled into thinking the standard BP of 120/80 mm is the optimal blood pressure for us humans. That figure is derived from averaging millions of readings from millions of people. Unfortunately, almost all of those people were sunlight deprived with all the problems that derive from that preventable situation. My BP used to be 120/80 but now with 60 years of age in my rear view mirror my BP is 113-115 / 65-70. I have a lady-friend whose BP used to be WAY WAY to high, and her doctor was going to put her on all kinds of meds (tons of side effects) to bring it down. Since tanning regularly for about three months her systolic BP is down 70 points and her diastolic BP is down 40 points. She is now in the range considered by the medical profession to be high normal but as far as I am concerned is still to high. Since her arteries are now helping her heart instead of resisting she can NOW safely start to exercise and continue to improve her diet to bring her BP down to the optimal range. Hope all this info is helpful to anyone with MS or other autoimmune disease or with cardiovascular problems. One last thing, NO (nitric oxide) in addition to inducing a relaxation response in VSM (vascular smooth muscle) also prevents our blood platelets from clumping together (agglutination) when we don’t want them to. If you don’t get enough NO production because you don’t have enough thickness (number of layers) of the vascular endothelium, then the platelets start spontaneously clumping together to form blood clots when you don’t want them to and this can easily lead to a stroke or heart attack. Also, prolonged hypertension (high blood pressure) will lead to cardiomegaly (enlarged heart) and eventually congestive heart failure and quite possibly death. So get some high UVB sun, and not just in the morning or late afternoon because there is no UVB at those times. You may be starting to realize that we have been lied to for the last 40 years by the dermatologists, about how dangerous the sun is. Sun avoidance leads to dozens if not hundreds of diseases and so keeps the doctors and drug companies busy and rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Get a moderate amount of high UVB solar noon sun, eat healthy, and get off your butt and get some exercise, not just aerobic either, hit the weights more so than aerobic exercise. Later friends.

  • Alan Sellen RMT.

    To attenuate the ultrasound waves means to block their penetration through the bone. In other words the denser the bone the more the ultrasound waves are being blocked, alternatively, the less dense (more porous) the bone, the less attenuation or blockage of the waves. Therefore as the attenuation increases it indicates that the bone’s density is greater.