Can You Improve Recovery after a Heart Attack?

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

After a heart attack, cardiologists provide instructions to patients for navigating the road to recovery. Is there anything a patient can do to improve the process? Yes!

Reinforcing Recovery – A Simple Recommendation

For as long as I have been a doctor I’ve repeatedly heard calls for new strategies from the cardiology community to make the recovery process more effective. As in most other recovery strategies in medicine, the ideas usually involve pharmaceutical interventions – aka – more drugs. 

Despite the repeated calls, nothing has ever really changed over the decades, as far as I can see, because cardiology, as in so many other medical fields, is thoroughly subverted by Big Pharma. By that I mean that low-tech and alternative measures, such as nutraceuticals and mind-body medicine, are largely shut out of the mainstream strategies even though they have so much to offer. 

In 2011, I recall struggling through a compact but dauntingly complex review by German cardiovascular researchers about the biochemical nitty-gritty that unfolds in damaged cardiac tissue after a heart attack. The article read like the script of a molecular drama filled with multiple subplots and a revolving cast of inflammatory, immune, and reparatory actors.

The researchers pointed out that despite “considerable progress over the last decades, acute myocardial infarction remains a major cause of death and debility worldwide.” They explained that understanding the basic mechanisms after a heart attack is crucial for the development of needed “new strategies” to reduce injury and promote repair because present therapies are not able to reduce heart muscle tissue death and optimize repair.

Well, I’ve got a new strategy that’s not so new. I’ve used it for years, and seen it give great added benefits to patients. It’s a low-tech supplement approach that is simple and powerful: the addition of CoQ10, magnesium, carnitine, and ribose – the “awesome foursome” – to any conventional therapeutic plan. These key supplements help repair and rejuvenate ailing hearts, and restore lagging energy production in energy-starved heart cells.

Drugs can’t do what these few supplements can do. They provide the raw materials for healing and cellular energy, and in the process also buy time to allow the heart’s own regenerative potential to kick in. Relatively recent research indicates that heart muscle cells – called cardiomyocytes – are slowly regenerated throughout adulthood. The newer findings contradict traditional cardiology thinking that cardiomyocytes renew only during childhood.  

While the German authors of the review paper called such research “speculative,” I think there is definitely something to the idea of regeneration in adults. I base my opinion on seeing many patients actually thrive long-term after serious heart attacks. That makes me believe that such regeneration occurs and that nutritional medicine can help facilitate the process. 


Liehn EA, et al. Repair after myocardial infarction, between fantasy and reality. J Am Coll Cardiol, 2011; 58(23):2357-62

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