Heart Sense for Thyroid Patients
An Interview with Cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra
By Mary Shomon
December 13, 2003
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women today, yet women’s heart problems are frequently overlooked. Many of us are more worried about breast cancer, which is far less likely to strike a woman than a heart attack. Stephen Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., is a board-certified cardiologist and certified pyschotherapist with more than 25 years of experience helping patients prevent and reverse heart disease.
In Dr. Sinatra’s new book, Heart Sense for Women: Your Plan for Natural Prevention and Treatment, published by LifeLine Press, he explores the innovative information about heart disease and women, including early warning symptoms, cholesterol, homocysteine, lipoprotein , and LDL oxidation, plus a natural program for reducing blood pressure and reducing reliance on medication.
I had an opportunity to talk to Dr. Sinatra about Heart Sense for Women, and what he felt that women with thyroid disease should know about thyroid disease.
Is There An Increased Risk of Heart Disease for Thyroid Patients?
According to Dr. Sinatra, writing in the September 2000 edition of his newsletter, “HeartSense,” even subclinical hypothyroidism — having normal to high-normal TSH levels — can increase risk of heart disease in women. Dr. Sinatra puts that risk at ’14 percent, or similar to the risk associated with the combination of high blood pressure and cigarette smoking.”
Still, Dr. Sinatra believes that the main risk is not a causal one, where thyroid problems directly cause the heart problems. Rather, says Sinatra, “if a woman has a thyroid problem, she needs to know that her risk is increased not necessarily because of the thyroid disease or the drugs she’s taking specifically, but because of the other risk factors — weight gain, lipid abnormalities, etc. — that result from the thyroid disease. A woman with thyroid disease needs to take more responsibility for her heart.”
What’s the Role of Coenzyme Q10?
One contributing risk factor, according to Dr. Sinatra, is deficiency of Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, as it’s known. Dr. Sinatra considers CoQ10 a true wonder-nutrient, because, as he says in his book, “it essentially improves the heart’s ability to pump more effectively.”
Women are naturally more deficient in CoQ10, and nowhere are deficiencies in this nutrient greater than in women with thyroid conditions. “If there is one thing a female thyroid patient can do, it’s supplement with CoQ10,” Dr. Sinatra says.
In particular, hyperthyroidism is a key risk for women. Says Dr. Sinatra, “If a woman is hyperthyroid, this can be a disaster, because in hyperthyroidism, a hyperactive thyroid gland can burn up all the CoQ10 in the body. The metabolism is so high that CoQ10 is stolen away from the heart. When this happens, the woman can go into heart failure. “Many times I have seen hyperthyroid storm in a woman associated with heart failure. We didn’t understand why women got heart failure and hyperthyroidism at the same time. We used to think it was a virus, but now we know the hyperthyroidism takes away the CoQ10.”
Dr. Sinatra could not emphasize enough how important he feels CoQ10 is for women with thyroid disease. “The way I treat women with any thyroid problem is with a minimum of 100-200 mg of CoQ10. If a woman is on a statin drug, or has heart problems, then 200-400 mg a day.”
Thyroid Drugs: The Controversy Over T3
I asked Dr. Sinatra if he felt that the use of T3 was a danger to the heart, as some doctors claim. With some patients, Dr. Sinatra is particularly cautious. “For a woman with heart disease or active angina, T3 can be a problem. It can make the heart work harder. Under those circumstances I would hold back T3.”
Otherwise, Dr. Sinatra prefers the desiccated natural form of thyroid hormone, Armour, which includes both T4 and T3. He did not feel that it poses any special dangers to patients.
“If there is one thing a female thyroid patient can do, it’s supplement with CoQ10,” — Dr. Stephen Sinatra
In the October 2000 issue of his newsletter, Dr. Sinatra says, “Be very skeptical of any health care provider who says that there’s only one type of thyroid treatment that works. There are generally two opposing ‘camps’ on this subject, each with their own dogma. One postulates that synthetic thyroid is the only safe and effective medication, while the other endorses only ‘natural’ thyroid as an effective treatment option. However, both camps are correct in part. Some patients respond only to traditional pharmacologics while others will respond only to Armour, or natural hormone.”
Dr. Sinatra’s philosophy is, “When it comes to thyroid, one size doesn’t fit all. I treat patients, not lab data. I treat quality of life issues.”
Says Dr. Sinatra: “There are a lot of doctors who call themselves thyroid specialists, but they’re just treating numbers. When I run into patients with more difficult thyroid problems, I refer them to my colleague, Dr. Robert Lang, M.D., an anti-aging medical expert and endocrinologist who specializes in thyroid disease.”
The Issue of Soy
Dr. Sinatra recommends soy for women, but I asked him about the soy/thyroid connection. Says Sinatra: “Daily soy can be a problem for women. (?) I still think soy is one of the healthy foods for women, (?) although women with a risk of breast cancer need to do their homework before they take soy. But, ultimately, the best soy for women is from foods — fresh soybeans……natural soy, tofu. I’m a believer in natural soy.”
Dr. Sinatra’s book provides greater details on other top foods for women, which include: flax, fish, nuts, and legumes, like chickpeas and lentils.
The Cholesterol Connection
While Dr. Sinatra believes that cholesterol levels should be controlled, he feels that the role of cholesterol is overplayed. “There are probably millions of women who are being treated too aggressively for high cholesterol,” he says. I do not like to give women statins, I try to treat cholesterol by natural means. His concern with statin drugs are that “they knock out the natural pathway for CoQ10, increasing the risk for cancer.” So, he tends to focus on his natural approaches.
For a women with high cholesterol who has a thyroid problem, Dr. Sinatra feels that sufficient thyroid treatment is the place to start. But if your cholesterol is still elevated, he recommends a low-carbohydrate “Mediterranean” diet to combat insulin resistance, with more healthy fats, and slightly increased protein. He would also add fish oil, garlic, l-carnitine, CoQ10, plus regular exercise, such as 20 to 60 minutes of walking a day.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), L-carnitine and CoQ10 for Weight Loss
I asked Dr. Sinatra if he had any thoughts about the current popularity of CLA for weight loss and muscle development.
Sinatra thought CLA could be a help to some. “It’s one area a woman can investigate. I haven’t seen any downside, except that it’s expensive. But I do know many anti-aging physicians who take it themselves for weight control. I don’t take it myself — what I do is l-carnitine and CoQ10. In a woman who exercises and does restrict calories somewhat, the combination of l-carnitine and CoQ10 will facilitate fatty acid metabolism and help her lose weight.
From Heart Sense for Women
Dr. Sinatra’s Top Ten Nutritional Supplements for Women
B-vitamins (folic acid, B12, B6)
OPCs (grape seed, pycnogenol)
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
Mitral Valve Prolapse
Some patients with thyroid problems also suffer from Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP). I asked Dr. Sinatra if he had any special tips.
First, Dr. Sinatra recommends that any woman with MVP be taking supplemental CoQ10. In addition, “What I like for MVP is magnesium…400-800 mg. a day. You can eradicate about 70% of the symptoms with MVP. ”
About Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and former Chief of Cardiology at Manchester Memorial Hospital where he has been Director of Medical education for the last ten years. Dr. Sinatra also is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. His New England Heart & Longevity Center in Manchester, Conn., integrates conventional medical treatments for heart disease with complementary nutritional, anti-aging and psychological therapies that help heal the heart.
Let me begin by stating that I did find this article online while researching a particular cardiac therapy in something Dr Blaylock had said and referenced Dr Sinatra’s protocol. As this is something I very much like to do. . .had a blast! The article links the two disease areas together in a way I thought was interesting and for that reason, I am showing it. But it is my opinion that since this was created in 2003, I rather suspect there might have been some growth in Dr Sinatra’s thinking. But, I’ll get to that. Dr Sinatra is a respected and distinguished physician, if not a bit up there on the monetizing end of things. Whatever works. . .
The changes I am suggesting that have occurred and potentially might have occurred are tied into the usage of Statin drugs for the first and the rather vague discussion of choice A or B with regard to how best to treat for thyroid disease on a second issue and third — the whole topic of soy usage.
Statin Drug therapy
As to the statin drugs, I have posted quite a bit on this for it is shameful the way it is being pushed on trusting, unsuspecting people. We trust our doctors to do what is right for us and often as in this case — they become as lemmings or sheep and follow the herd in group-thinking just the way BIG PhRMA insists. It is akin to a scam. To bring my point home I have used several doctors, running videos of them as they describe why statin use is wrong in their opinion and ineffectual for stopping heart attacks, but instead set people up to vulnerability to having cardiac episodes or distress. I have used recently (to the best of my memory), Dr. Saul, Blaylock and also Sinatra in different posts.
In the second issue of thyroid disease, I perceive a bit of ‘fence-straddling’ — neither yea nor nay. See, this was my own biggie in my life. . . . entire adult life til well past 60, I had pleaded for any doctor to give me helpful medicine for my gland. I was only asking for iodine. My problems were text-book (I learned later, much later). At 22, doctors removed a lobe of my thyroid gland. They were satisfied with my surgery and recuperation. Said I did not need any further treatment. The fact that my goiter had grown so noticeable, apparently was reason enough to operate, but to their minds, my gland was fine. According to my test results, all was in normal limits. That’s what I was always told decade after decade. There’s a book out there called “STOP THE THYROID MADNESS” by Janie Bowthorpe which I learned about from a compassionate commenter to my blog 5 or 6 years ago. Sad, but a very good read. Opened my eyes. So yes, the large majority of doctors only look at the numbers of the test, but deaf, dumb and blind to the patient’s story, pain, experience – SYMPTOMS!
But as to how to treat a patient with this or any disease,, be compassionate. Listen to the patient. See the whole person. If one wishes to be a healer, one must lead with heart energy and a clear mind, not one with biased predilections built on BIG PhRMA’s old boy’s club with walls so high that truth can’t get in and the corporate structure calls all the shots built on materialistic exclusivity. One must be open, able to use the scientific approach of seeing what really is. The body can only use what is biologically compatible with it, and that connotes the stuff of nature, not some contrivance of chemicals in a laboratory. Pharmaceuticals force and manipulate, while the materials of nature’s flora and fauna support and are recognized by the body. Drugs can burden the body while biological material nourishes and enables the body to heal itself. Which is why the porcine hormone of desiccated hormone like Armour which has all the elements our own thyroid produces -T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin, is so beneficial and welcomed by the body. It gets the job done.
Just as the Synthroid synthetic hormone was equally acceptable along with Armour porcine hormone to Dr Sinatra, I found it confusing, or at the least — difficult to reconcile knowing the pain, damage and frustration it brings. Using only the organic product, it is still a big juggling act to get it right. Nothing would have been needed; it would not have become the epidemic problem it is, had iodine not been removed from our daily lives.
Gong back in history, iodine was used in the baking industry (it helped condition the dough prior to baking); was used in dairies to cleanse the teats of the cow’s udder and also as a perfect antiseptic for the dairy equipment. It became the law to replace iodine and use bromine instead. It cost substantially more, smelled bad and tasted worse. Those in the various industries had no choice – it was now the law. Goodbye iodine. But this has resulted in nearly universal deficiency of iodine in the American populace. We had all relied on iodine to help eliminate fluoride, bromine, lead, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum and mercury. Good thing we aren’t some of those conspiracy-minded people or we might think that all this might have been carried out to increase diseases and thus create more need for pharmaceuticals. (Elaine Hollingsworth’s book “Take Control of your Health” and escape the sickness industry).
S O Y
Finally, the 3rd point – Soy. It is difficult for me to understand Dr Sinatra’s endorsement of soy. First and foremost, it is almost 98 % GMO. I am not aware of many organic-minded, health-oriented people who would indulge in genetically modified anything. Because it is high protein, it has long been a desirable choice, but lost much favor after it became almost 100% GMO. The second issue with it is the messing around with [especially] women’s hormonal systems. — wrong — its both sexes.
CoQ10 and Magnesium
Okay, so I have an additional thought. . .I totally agree about the CoQ10 being super SUPER important. But if you really want to bless the body, give it the form it can most readily use and quickly absorb which is UBIQUINOL .I buy the 100 mg bottle and take 1 am; 1 w /dinner and sometimes 1 @ bedtime. A must with the cardio thing.
Both with heart problems and with brain, body in general the need for Magnesium is paramount. My heart has been beaten up pretty bad with all the hyper-activity my thyroid eventually went into after a lifetime of being hypo. I went thru 5 years of continuous, stressful A-fib. Every doctor I saw demanded that I take more Magnesium. But no matter how much I took, the problem was not handled. My blessed heart was overworked; diarrhea was a huge problem as I had long before exceeded my limit and obviously, was not utilizing what I was taking. . . . which is why I couldn’t get enough. Wasn’t going to happen. Problem has been solved. I told this before, but it’s so important to so many, thought I’d tell it again.
The very latest form of magnesium is something called Magnesium L-Threonate the product I use is called MAGTEIN by Source Naturals. 180 caps and its 667 mg. I take 3 a day [divided]. I also use a product called Calm by Natural Vitality [a powder]. 16 oz. I started with 1/2 tsp mixed into boiled water; stir, then add to a quart jar of pure cold water to drink throughout the day. Perceptible taste which I like. Use 1 tsp now. Think I’m getting what I need now and don’t have to use the topical or transdermal magnesium I used to spray on, though I could if I wanted to use it – this is easier.
So between my magnesium balanced out, the taking of my two L-carnitine tabs in the morning plus a Taurine 1000 tablet also in the am, I no longer have A-fib and I can now sleep like a baby again. (Oh, what a relief it is). and all the other supplements I take, still doing okay, just a hell of a lot slower Good nite. Jan)