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Heartburn and Heart Attacks

Heartburn and Heart Attacks
June 7, 2014 Patrick Nemechek, D.O.

heartfireTwo totally different conditions, right?  Heartburn is a mild nuisance that can be easily remedied with antacids from the store.  Heart attacks are the number one killer of Americans that requires the emergency aid of skilled cardiologists to prevent death.

Yet as different as they seem, their origins are deeply intertwined and understanding why is a big clue to your future health.

Watch Dr. N’s CoffeeTalk on Heartburn

Heartburn is not the innocent overproduction of stomach acid it’s actually the result of either an abnormal bacterial balance in the intestinal tract (SIBO) or the result of damage to the autonomic nervous system by the foods we consume (Overnutrition).

Both SIBO and Overnutrition trigger a systemic increase in cellular stress called Metabolic Inflammation.

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Metabolic Inflammation is characterized by the release of chemicals from the immune system called cytokines.  The cytokines cause cells to not function properly and results in cellular destruction.  It can also fuel an abnormal inflammatory reaction that results in chronic pain of muscles or joints.  Both heartburn and chronic pain are symptoms of Metabolic Inflammation that we can actually feel.

The cellular destruction from Metabolic Inflammation is silent, yet it is the driving force behind the blood vessel damage that narrows arteries and can result in a heart attack.  Although we worry about our cholesterol levels, it’s really the Metabolic Inflammation that drives blood vessel damage.

Cholesterol is relatively harmless without inflammation to activate the process, so if you have high cholesterol you have one warning sign.  Lowering your cholesterol levels with drugs does little to prevent heart attacks; you must reduce all sources of inflammation to prevent blood vessel damage and heart attacks.

The same advice is true for heartburn.  Heartburn is a warning sign for adults and kids that something is not working correctly inside their body.  The next time you feel heartburn, or your kids say they “throw up a little in their mouth” after eating, don’t disregard it as harmless reflux or mask it with antacids.

Antacids do not reverse the cause of heartburn.  The answer for heartburn lies in fixing the intestinal overgrowth or fixing the damage to the nervous system.  Without these steps, the inflammation, which drives the heartburn, will one day activate your genetic weakness for other types of disease (cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s).

You must eliminate Metabolic Inflammation, both silent and symptomatic, in order to remain healthy.  Reduce your carbs below 100 grams per day, take omega-3 fish oil (take 2-3,000 of omega-3 fatty acids per day), exercise, and rebalance intestinal bacteria with the prebiotic fiber inulin (1/2-1 tbsp once or twice a day).  If that doesn’t stop your heartburn, speak to your physician about other ways to reverse SIBO and Overnutrition.

You can avoid both the antacid section of the grocery store and the cardiac unit of the hospital by fighting the underlying cause of both heartburn and heart attacks:  Metabolic Inflammation.

©  2014.  Dr. Patrick Nemechek.  All Rights Reserved.

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