Posted by: Chris Maloney | December 30, 2011

Ben Breedlove and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), Could He Still Be Alive?

Česky: Implantabilní kardioverter-defibrilátor...

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Ben Breedlove is gone, but did he have to die?  In a 2002 JAMA study the authors reported:  “HCM, although an important cause of death and disability at all ages, does not invariably convey ominous prognosis and is compatible with normal longevity.”  The authors wax lyrically about the use of high-tech:  “High-risk patients may be treated effectively for sudden death prevention with the implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.”

Despite the tech advances, we know relatively little about the causation and progression of HCM.  A study published this month in an Italian Cardiology journal sums it up:  “different aspects of HCM progression remain obscure, including potential strategies for management and prevention.”

What little we do know about HCM indicates that it is a genetic mutation in the sarcomeres (muscles of the heart).  Why this sometimes leads t0 sudden death in athletes and can otherwise be asymptomatic is less well explored.

Beyond the drugs (beta-blockers) and the implant, what else would have helped?  We’re talking about a heart muscle, which brings in a whole body of information about cardiac disease and the health of the heart.

Pick something obvious like COQ10.  Widely used as a supportive agent for cardiac disease, but could it have helped Ben?  A genetic lack of COQ10 leads to… HCM.  Patients placed on 200mg of COQ10 had an average of 23% improvement in wall thickness.  Was Ben on COQ10?

How about magnesium?  Electrolyte, needed to avoid heart spasms, and useful for preventing heart attacks.  We have a cat study that shows cats with magnesium restricted diets are more likely to have HCMWe have a case report of a child with chronic low magnesium that developed HCM.  We have no human studies.  So it is unlikely Ben was on magnesium.

How about Hawthorn?  Great stuff, non-toxic, and helpful for chronic heart patients.  Nothing.  We’ve got a rat study that shows hawthorn significantly helps the heart muscle get oxygen.  But nothing has been done on HCM.  Was Ben on Hawthorn?  Nope.

Here are three non-toxic, nutrition-grade supplements with evidence that they help with a variety of heart illnesses, and Ben could probably have benefited from one or more of them.  And we haven’t begun to scratch the surface of functional medicine.  It’s just a shame that those who need help can’t find it.  Who benefits from limiting Ben’s access to information that might have given him a few more months?

 

 


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