So, How Many Pills Do YOU Take?
Talk about getting old! Each and every day I take 14 different drugs and supplements for a total of 25 pills to fight my heart disease. Anybody else who wants bragging rights feel free to comment and claim your throne as the king of pill takers. If nothing else it will make the rest of us feel better. So, just what is old HeartHawk taking? Well, here is the list with a little descriptive commentary on why. As always, consult your physician before taking any new drug or supplement
Niacin (3g): Perhaps the most underappreciated supplement niacin lowers bad cholestrol (LDL), raises good cholestrol (HDL - probably better than any prescription agent), lowers triglycerides, and is about the only good agent for lowering lipoprotein(a) (lp(a) is what's trying to kill me) and it is cheap. It also shifts LDL particle size toward the less deadly large size. I choke down 3, 1 gram horse pills every day. I take a prescription brand called Niaspan because I take so much and it has a lower incidence of side effects.
Rosuvastatin (5mg): Sold under the brand name Crestor, it is one of the newest and most effective statin drugs available for lowering LDL. It also modestly raises HDL. I buy it in 10mg form but split the pills and take 5mg per day (it's that effective and cheaper)
Doxycline Hyclate (20mg twice daily): Doxycycline is an old antibiotic with a number of novel uses including periodontal disease at the dose I take. However, I take it because doxycycline is also a potent inhibitor of Matrix-Metalloproteinase an enzyme thought to degrade the heart plaque protective cap and make it prone to rupture. As an interesting side effect, my dental hygienist was amazed at how little gunk she had to clean off my teeth at my last visit!
Esomeprazole (40mg): You know, the little purple pill -Nexium. I take 40mg of Nexium daily because all that other stuff upsets my stomach. Great, I take pills to counteract the other pills. Wait, it gets better! Read the next entry.
Co-Q10 (150mg): Good old Co-enzyme Q10. I take 150mg per day to counteract the muscle pain and weakness induced by statins. Hey, it works and is generally good for you anyway.
Fish Oil (5g EPA/DHA): This is the motherlode of all supplements and I take six honking 900mg pills per day to get what I need. It does everything - reduces inflammation, clotting, lowers triglycerides and small LDL particles. If you take only one supplement, make sure it's this one. In one study it lowered risk of heart attack death by 45%. My reason for taking such a large dose is that a recent study also found it reduces Lipoprotein(a) - the scourge of my heart health!
Aspirin (162.5mg): Need I say more. Unless your doctor advises against it - take it. I used to take 325mg per day but my tummy rebelled!
Vitamin B Complex: I take this mostly as a hedge against homocysteine. The link here is growing tenuous but heck, I've been taking it for 6 six years. It's a habit.
Vitamin C: The same goes for Vitamin C. Despite the shaky claims of Drs. Linus Pauling and Mathias Rath (kinda kooky in my opinion) the evidence for Vitamin C is just not that strong. But, it is a cheap anti-oxidant and at least I know I won't get scurvy! I take 1000mg per day.
Vitamin D (10,000IU): There is growing evidence that Vitamin D may be the newest "must have" supplement for heart disease sufferers (especially if you live in a region without a lot of sun). You want vitamin D3 (not D2) and the oil-based preparations are purportedly more bio-available. I know Dr. Davis of Track Your Plaque swears he is seeing more and more clinical evidence of plaque reduction in his practice among Vitamin D takers. I am a little more skeptical but his success is hard to argue with. I take 10,000IU per day to reach Doc Davis' recommended blood level of 60ng/dL - many others need much less. 'Nuff said!"
Vitamin K2 (100mcg MK7): Deficiency of K2 in both mice and humans is associated with coronary calcification; low vitamin K2 levels are associated with increased activity of Gla matrix protein, an enzyme that causes calcium deposition in artery walls (there was similar association for K1). People who take warfarin (Coumadin®), a potent blocker of vitamin K2, experience more arterial and heart valve calcification. This plus other evidence led me to adding K2 to my regimen.
Armour Thyroid (1 grain): I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis a form of hypothyroidism and a potent cause of heart disease. Many endocrinologists dislike Armour Thyroid, a natural product derived from porcine thyroids (that's right - pigs) and will only prescribe synthetic levothyroxine. I won't spend any a lot of space telling you why they are misdirected snobs. That is for another post! Suffice to say Armour Thyroid provide both T4 and T3 (the two main thyroid hormones) while levothyroxine only provides T4 which is expected to degrade into T3.
Kelp (125mg): Kelp, that's right again - seaweed. I take it for the iodine content to help what is left of my thyroid to function better.
Selenium (100mcg): Selenium is great anti-oxidant with a number of purported health benefits. I take it because it is also used as a thyroid support supplement.
So there is my laundry list. Any challengers?
Looking out for your heart health,