The heart's a lonely hunter

Jun
19
2009
by
Lynne McTaggart
/
9
Comments

I was fascinated by material my husband Bryan Hubbard wrote about in our current issue of What Doctors Don’t Tell You (website: http://www.wddty.com).  Bryan was attempting to answer why heart disease is still the number 1 killer in the West.  In the US alone, every 37 seconds, someone’s heart fatally packs up.
What Bryan found was nothing short of revelatory: namely, in fingering cholesterol as the bad guy in heart disease, medicine essentially is taking aim at the cavalry. 
Far from being the enemy, cholesterol appears to be the body’s chief means of eleventh-hour cardiovascular repair. It also is essential for keeping the brain sharp, which is why people taking statins often suffer cognitive deficiencies and even staggering memory loss. 
So why do people have heart attacks in the West? Susan Sontag once famously said, ‘illness is metaphor’.  I’ve been thinking about heart disease a good deal lately, and I grow more and more convinced that heart disease is chiefly a disease of emotional pain.
Dying of a broken heart
Lately scientists have been intrigued by a phenomenon called ‘broken heart syndrome’, where an emotional upset, such as the loss of a loved one, causes dysfunction in the ventricular chamber and heart failure in people without previous heart disease. Researchers at Johns Hopkins found that women with this syndrome, which often brought on heart failure, had none of the usual predisposing factors of heart disease.  What they’d suffered was purely psychological — the divorce or the death of a loved one.
Nevertheless, the bereavement or sadness had released such toxic levels of stress hormones, particularly adrenalin,that these had ‘stunned’ the heart, literally causing it to break.
Every so-called lifestyle risk factor laid at the door of cardiovascular illness by the medical community has less to do with someone having a heart attack than simple loneliness.
The role of social ties in heart disease was highlighted in a famous study by S. Leonard Syme, a sociologist at the Unversity of California at Berkeley School of Public Health.  Syme has made it his lifetime study to examine what’s usually called ‘social capital’ in societies.
Social capital measures the strength of any given area’s social fabric:  the trust between citizens, the level of reciprocal behavior, the number of associations and groups.
Syme was fascinated by the fact that even though the Japanese smoke like chimneys, they have very low heart disease in Japan.  Once they move to America, however, their heart disease escalates, although it is lower than American white — even if they quit smoking. 
So he decided to compare the heart attack rates in Japanese Americans in Hawaii and smoke-free California with those of the Japanese in their native land. 
He discovered a clear upward graph:  the lowest statistics in Japan, higher in Hawaii and higher still in California.  None of the usual risk factors like smoking or higher cholesterol made any difference to the mortality statistics.
The only thing that made any difference was the strength of social ties – the social capital.  In Japan and to a slightly lesser extent Hawaii, the Japanese maintained their close social and familial bonds.  In California, however, once they abandoned those ways to Western lifestyle, they started dropping like flies.
Diets make no difference
In some native populations, heart disease is a rarity even when the inhabitants adopt Western diets.  For instance, a group of researchers studying the native populations of the Solomon islands found that they had no coronary heart disease or high blood pressure even after they’d adopted Western diets and religious practices. This puzzled the researchers until they discovered one area that had remained constant:  the social ties and roles within the family.  
The role of social ties in heart disease was highlighted in a study in Nevada versus those of Utah.  They are neighboring states, their ethnic mix is similar, they both have similarly high education statistics, and to all appearances, Nevada is the more successful state, with 15 -20 per cent higher income. 
Nevertheless, their statistics on mortality from heart attack were on opposite ends of the spectrum. Nevada had one of the highest death rates in the country, while Utah had one of the lowest. 
The primary difference between the two states was the stability of the social structure and close-knit families in predominantly Morman Utah, compared with the high degree of broken and dysfunctional family life in Nevada.  It was the weakening of the social fabric, concluded the researchers, that had mostly to do with the difference in mortality.
Rather than worrying about your cholesterol levels, your doctor should be more concerned about the most important diagnostic test of all: the state of your friendships. 
 

Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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9 comments on “The heart's a lonely hunter”

  1. Thanks again Lynne. The Institute of Heartmath is also instrumental in opening up the latest research into cardio-endocrinology: the physiology of the hearts hormonal reactions to emotions, and its effect on the nervous system. As a medical doctor, I have personally been exploring the emotional connection to heart disease for years. At an intuitive level it is well known by patients. However the medical profession, together with the media, created such a deep belief in the cholesterol theory, that people begin to deeply doubt their own intuition. They second guess the most important brain of all...the gut! You cant even get a life insurance policy without an increased premium if your cholesterol level is mildly elevated. And the questionaires never include questions on emotional and social well-being!
    I find EFT (Emotional freedom Techniques) very helpful in all chronic disease prevention,
    especially heart disease, more than any pill, synthetic or natural.
    Thanks for your beautiful bright light.

  2. Such great news deserves to be spread around the world - maybe you should Twitter it? Maybe I should?
    I have also used EFT to help relieve stress, as I have used laughter yoga to help heal and release stress. However, I cannot prove that people can mend their broken hearts by laughing or using EFT.
    So it is great news that finally someone is looking outside of the normal symptom range to find an answer to why we have people dying of a broken heart for instance. I believe that very soon most, if not all ilnesses will be found to have a root cause in the "mind" or "brain" or maybe just the way we think, act, feel and lead our lives.

  3. I myself suffer from heart disease and I have over the past 20 years taken an interest in the subject on that account. However, the following could only be described as an informed viewpoint. I have no medical qualifications whatsoever.
    I have to indicate that I have absolutely no doubt that the mind and the emotions play a major role. Even so, smoking can be counted as a major factor. Somewhere on the web, someone wrote that statistics show that if a person has high cholesterol and smokes, they will have a heart attack before the age of 60. I qualified on both counts and I had mine at 44. Obviously, I survived (that time).
    Smoking causes hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure. My Father, who smoked all his life passed on at age 67, from a heart attack.
    However, it is my view that the medical profession in the main, has for years, put far too much emphasis on cholesterol. My own Cardiologist, whom I will not name, went on TV to argue that a well known cholesterol drug should not be dropped by patients even though trials had proved that it actually increased plaque!
    I believe that Dr. Mathias Rath is absolutely correct in his opinion that the big factor in heart disease is lack of vitamin C and other vital nutrients. It was lack of fresh fruit and vitamin C which caused the external disease of scurvy in sailors and lack of this vitamin can cause veins and arteries to become porous. The body, which I have long believed has intelligence independent of the wearer, attempts to make repairs using cholesterol. The view that cholesterol is the cavalry is something I would agree with.
    It may also be the case that the programme which the body follows in attempting to make repairs continues to the point of blocking arteries if the damage caused by lack of vitamin C continues or is advanced. I personally would not drop the use of statins, on that account, although I did switch from the one I mentioned earlier.
    It is my view that the enormous profits involved in medicine often have the effect of obscuring facts and this is something I constantly bear in mind. Bob Dylan wrote the line “Money doesn’t just talk – it swears!”

  4. I am in my seventies and I have not had heart problems. I do, however, have elevated cholesterol levels which apparently run in my family and which do not, for the most part, respond to diet. I now take both Lipitor and Zetia to get my "bad" cholesterol below 190. I exercise, eat right, never smoked, and am only slightly overweight. I wish I could ignore my doctor and stimply not take the statins, but the medical profession seems to see them as such "wonder drugs" that I am afraid to ignore my doctor's advice.
    I agree with Lynne that emotional factors may well be more harmful to the heart than having too much cholesterol. I have seen the accepted C levels drop significantly over the years until they finally included me.

  5. I am 64 and I had a heart attack when I was 48. My heart was already totally emotionally broken when my first husband and soulmate died 20 years earlier. I remarried and I love my husband, but the wounds where to deep to repair. I expressed myself as a broken heart woman, and I was sure I should die very early. My heart atttack happened 3 months after a removal to an other side of the country. It gave me much stress physical, financial, social, marriage. My whole family died from heart attack. I am a survivor. I refused to take cholesterol pills because I felt the damage to brain: memory, dull mind. I recognise all the items you mentioned in your letter and I thank you for sharing.

  6. Thank you for confirming what I have believed for a long time now, that heart attacks are really an emotional "broken heart". I used to work in a heart specialist office and felt sorry for all the broken hearted patients that came through the door. Confirming that what we "feel" will manifest in our physical bodies.

  7. I certainly agree that heart health is related to
    emotional health. I once had a heart arrhythmia. I used the attractor-field technique to release the hidden cognitive- emotional pattern through forgiveness and accutones to release the neurological pattern. Today I am much happier and my relationships are much more harmonious.

  8. I AM A CARDIAC SPECIALIST NURSE,WITH A REAL PASSION FOR HOLISTIC CARE.I GIVE MY PATIENTS A RANGE COMPLIMENTARY APROACHES, FROM REIKI,HYPNOTHERAPY,NLP FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION.LAUGHTER THERAPY AND WE HAVE A VERY LARGE CLOSE SUPPORT NETWORK INTO THE COMMUNITY WITH OUR COMMUNITY EXERCISE/HEART SUPPORT GROUP AND SOCIAL EVENTS GROUP.
    PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT IS PARAMOUNT IN MY OPINION,MYSUPPORT LINE IS ALWAYS OPEN AND I GET FABULOUS FEEDBACK ABOUT OUR PROGRAMME.
    I ALSO SPEND ALOT OF MY TIME CHANGING DRUGS FOR COMPLIANCE DUE TO SIDEEFFECTS. tHIS A GET FUSTRATED ABOUT BUT HAVE TO COMPLY WITH
    I OFFER MY PTS ACCESS TO DEAN ORNISH AND
    MATTHUS RATHS APPROACH,BUT I WORK MAINLY ON THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS,DEALING WITH ANXIETY/DEPRESSION/STRESS MANAGEMENT IN GROUP SESSIONS. OR INDIVIDUALLY COUNSELLING WITH MY COMPLEMENTARY APPROACHES AND THE USE OF HYPNOTHERAPY/SUBLIMINAL CDS.

  9. Thank you so much for this topic it helps to know this I was told by my doc that my cholesterol is high my triglycerides are394 my hdl 29 ldl 110 this was last week my last test was 3 months ago I am 36, 170 lps and about 6 f I ride a bike every were I mean I do not drive not in winter I will take bus or train but I still walk my diet would almost be veg. but I do eat chicken 1 a week maybe not even and I may have a burger 1 a month I do not eat as much fresh veg as I did do to dentures My reason for all this is that to me it makes no sense I did smoke but its been 1 year and it was off and on before in those days and my doc just put me on a medication but no other options on any thing elts I have been doing fish oil nordic naturals but it is $$$ so some times I cant do it ,but now after reading this it does make me wonder all my life I have been sad and I do not think so much like its a mental and I have tried all of those pills not 1 worked it is part of me I feel the pain of the world I am sad righting this for me I have a hard time in life ,one it is so easy for people to hert each other and nature I do NOT feel comfortable taking this med gemfibrozil my moms side does have this chol. problem I am a single father and I feel It is my part for my daughter to take it so I do not have a heart attack but on the other maybe it will effect my brain I am interested in EFT and any help some one could give .namaste

Why wait any longer when you’ve already been waiting your entire life?

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