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An article the New England Journal of Medicine shows that damaged hearts can heal. This means that people who have had bypass surgery, heart attacks, myocarditis, and any other damage to their hearts should immediately change their lifestyles and correct the factors in their lives that damaged their hearts in the first place, and look forward to a long life.

The old theory was that the heart gets all its oxygen and nutrition from blood carried to the heart muscle by arteries on the outside surface of the heart. The blood that is pumped inside the heart provides almost no oxygen and nutrition. When an artery on the outside of the heart is blocked, the heart muscle supplied by that artery suffers from lack of oxygen and dies forever. Researchers at New York Medical College in Valhalla analyzed hearts of people who had died from heart attacks. They found that the dead heart muscle was loaded with brand new cells, showing that after the muscle died, the heart tried to replace the dead cells with new cells.

In 1975, Robert Wissler, of the University of Chicago, showed, for the first time, that arteriosclerotic plaques could dissolve from the inside of arteries when rabbits were put on a low fat diet and drugs to lower cholesterol. Now Antonio Beltrami of the New York Medical College, Valhalla, shows that heart muscle killed by a heart attack can rejuvenate itself by producing new cells.

If you have blocked arteries or you have had a heart attack, you should start to reverse your risk factors immediately. Restrict foods with saturated fat such as meat and chicken and whole milk dairy products, and those with partially hydrogenated fats found in many packaged foods, margarines and bakery products. Avoid foods that have sugar added to them, and foods that are made from grains that have had the germ removed. Eat plenty of whole grains, beans, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. If you are overweight, lose weight. Get into a controlled, supervised exercise program. Control high blood pressure. And realize that it doesn't make much difference what you did as a kid. You will live and die by what you do today.

NEJM June 7, 2001

May 21st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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