Russert's untimely death raises questions about how we're treating heart disease
You won't hear me say this often about anyone in mainstream media, but T. Russert, newsman and anchor of Meet the Press, was someone I respected. I took great joy in watching politicians squirm under his tough questioning. So, like most Americans, I was sad to hear the tragic news of his sudden death. After all, Russert was just 58 years old — relatively young by today's standards.
According to his doctors, he had diabetes, heart disease, and he was overweight. Yet without fail, every time I hear a news story or read an article on his death, the commentators express their surprise that something like this could happen to someone who was on blood pressure pills and cholesterol drugs, who exercised routinely (in fact, he worked out on the treadmill the morning he died), and who was on a diet. He'd even recently passed a stress test.
I wish I could say I was shocked by this news. Unfortunately, stories like this one only highlight what I've been telling you all along: Blood pressure doesn't cause heart disease, high cholesterol drugs aren't cure-alls, and exercise can do more harm than good. In short, none of the steps Russert's doctors told him to take to address his health concerns were doing a darn bit of good.
Instead, if someone had told him to focus on keeping his homocysteine levels low and his magnesium levels high, we might not be having this conversation in the first place. Homocysteine makes cholesterol stick to your artery walls and can also contribute the hardening of your arteries. It's simple to control your cholesterol levels by loading up on B vitamins, like B6, B12 and folate.
Magnesium also has vital heart-healthy benefits.
"Statins don't protect against heart attacks. And [Russert] didn't know that the lack of one nutrient could have cost him his life," said acclaimed neurosurgeon Dr. R. B. "The number-one cause of sudden cardiac death is magnesium deficiency. Cardiac patients and those with diabetes have the lowest magnesium levels of all."
I've written to you before about the many benefits of magnesium. This mineral prevents blood clots, dilates blood vessels, and can also stop the development of dangerous heart irregularities. It's why I've been such a long-time advocate of increasing magnesium intake for its heart-health benefits – not to mention what it does for your bones and bodily tissues. I've even used magnesium in emergency medicine to help limit brain damage in stroke victims. And yet more than half of Americans have a magnesium deficiency.
"People who are deficient in magnesium are most likely to have sudden cardiac arrest, and when they do arrest, they are harder to resuscitate,"DR. B. says. "Many simply can't be resuscitated."
Dr. S. B. surgeon in chief of New York's M. Medical Center, did a good job of summing up just why the death of the beloved newsman has so shaken both Americans in general and doctors in particular: "It makes us all feel mortal, and it also highlights the natural history of this silent killer and our limited ability to catch this killer before it strikes."
Fighting on in the battle against heart disease,
W. C. D. M.D.