Welcome! This blog contains research & information on lifestyle, nutrition and health for those with MS, as well as continuing information on the understanding of the endothelium and heart-brain connection. This blog is informative only--all medical decisions should be discussed with your own physicians.

The posts are searchable---simply type in your topic of interest in the search box at the top left.

Almost all of MS research is initiated and funded by pharmaceutical companies. This maintains the EAE mouse model and the auto-immune paradigm of MS, and continues the 20 billion dollar a year MS treatment industry. But as we learn more about slowed blood flow, gray matter atrophy, and environmental links to MS progression and disability--all things the current drugs do not address--we're discovering more about how to help those with MS.

To learn how this journey began, read my first post from August, 2009. Be well! Joan

Sunday, March 8, 2015

New research on the Heart-Brain Connection in MS

More and more researchers are looking at the connection between heart health and brain health in Multiple Sclerosis.  It was seven years ago I first contacted cardiovascular and endothelial specialist Dr. John Cooke at Stanford University regarding my theory that serum markers of endothelial dysfunction might be pointing to a connection between the heart and brain in MS.

Dr. Cooke was very kind in responding to me, and said that the research I had compiled appeared to point to an association, but that the MS specialists he talked to at his university asserted the autoimmune nature of the disease, and the lack of connection between the heart and brain health in MS.  At that time, not many researchers considered endothelial dysfunction a component on MS disease progression.  Endothelial dysfunction was a known contributor to heart disease and stroke, however researchers weren't really looking at it in terms of diseases of neurodegeneration.

In fact, when I wrote about the endothelium, most lay people and even some medical people I spoke to had never encountered the word, but thankfully, this is changing. The endothelium is the largest secreting organ in the human body.  It is the layer of cells which line the 60,000 miles of blood vessels that nourish our bodies.  When endothelial cells are damaged and die, we see markers of this in the blood.  Endothelial health is essential to the health of the body's organs and tissues.  The heart and brain included.

Today, more and more MS researchers are considering this connection.

There is about 30% higher risk of the myocardial infarction in patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) than in people without MS. Increased risk of cardiovascular disease development positively correlates with levels of serum markers of an endothelial dysfunction, and may give rise to a global cerebral hypoperfusion. It appears that these complications precede progressive loss of axons, which mechanisms are complex and should be linked to a loss of β2 adrenergic receptors on astrocytes of demyelinating lesions. Consequence of this deficiency, the cause of which is not known yet, is a decline in energy metabolism of axons. Moreover, the loss of these receptors is linked to a reduced redistribution of potassium ions by astrocytes, glutamate excitotoxicity and increase of calcium ion concentration in the axon with subsequent activation of necrotic processes. In addition to immunological aspects we should take into account also parameters of the functional state of endothelium when appropriate targeted therapy for patient is considered. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25702293

Serum markers of endothelial dysfunction which can be regularly tested are levels of c reactive protein (CrP), hypercoagulation (SED rate, ESR), and fibrinogen or thrombin (d dimer).  In fact, researchers already know that all of these blood markers are found to be high in people with MS.  When Jeff was diagnosed in 2007, his serum numbers for these markers were sky high.  Which is why I started this line of inquiry in the first place.

Another new study has found that people with MS who also had one or more cardiovascular (CV) risk factor (obesity, smoking, inactivity, hypertension) had higher lesion load and more pronounced brain atrophy.

Patients with MS showed increased frequency of smoking (51.7% vs 36.5%, p=0.001) and hypertension (33.9% vs 24.7%, p=0.035) compared with HCs. In total, 49.9% of patients with MS and 36% of HCs showed ≥2 CV risks (p=0.003), while the frequency of ≥3 CV risks was 18.8% in the MS group and 8.6% in the HCs group (p=0.002). In patients with MS, hypertension and heart disease were associated with decreased grey matter (GM) and cortical volumes (p<0.05), while overweight/obesity was associated with increased T1-LV (p<0.39) and smoking with decreased whole brain volume (p=0.049). Increased lateral ventricle volume was associated with heart disease (p=0.029) in CIS.
Patients with MS with one or more CV risks showed increased lesion burden and more advanced brain atrophy.

What does this all mean?  Living a cardiovascularly healthy lifestyle benefits more than the heart.  It can keep the MS brain from atrophying and delay progression.
These are all things that can be done today with nutrition, exercise and lifestyle which will maintain brain health.

Here's the program I created for Jeff, based on the connections I saw all those years ago.  He's still on the program, and it's still helping him keep his serum numbers in the normal zone, with no MS progression.

I hope this might encourage you to learn more about the connection between your heart and brain, and your amazing endothelium!


  1. Thank you for the encouragement. You are a blessing.

    1. you are more than welcome, Beth! Seeing people thriving is the best reward. xo

    2. Translated with Google, from Italian into English, MODIFIED UPDATED COMPARED TO PREVIOUS COMMENT:
      in your perfect exposure, lack the combination with Ginkgo Biloba, Yellow and Green never!, Flax seed, the weed called purslane and, of ripe olives, with endocarp dense purple live up to the core. In summary, they lack the short-chain omega-3 in that the body part becomes long chain, EPA and DHA, and the Omega 9 of olives, in addition, to all the integrators, already metabolized, type minerals, trace elements and amino acids Bio Catalysts Vitamins and, in the never drink panacea broad spectrum that you can find on the front page of GOOGLE, if you type "Bone sepia therapeutic drug." All this will regenerate all cells ENDOTHELIAL! Improving the walls of all the veins! (Ask the prof. Paolo Zamboni that scientifically there it can confirm y!) Regulates the Triglycerides, Cholesterol and Fibrinogen in addition to perceive immediately, Best Quality Sleep, memory of Dreams to morning awakening, increased energy daily, smaller, until it disappears, the States of ANXIETY and eventually IMPROVEMENT OF ALL DISEASES OF CNS, central nervous system, improving the body pH, children hyperactive boys and their growth bone formation, or less, in the end zero state of depression and body metereopatico and, over time, after three months, many other improvements, including MS, ALS and Alzheimer !! . E_MAIL " ruggierifp@alice.it "

      Tradotto con Google, da italiano in inglese, MODIFICATO AGGIORNATO RISPETTO AL PRECEDENTE COMMENTO :
      nella tua perfetta esposizione, manca l'abbinamento al Ginkgo Biloba, giallo e mai Verde !, dei semi di Lino, della pianta infestante, chiamata Portulaca e, delle olive mature, con endocarpo viola denso vivo fino al nocciolo. In sintesi, mancano gli Omega 3 a catena corta che in parte l'organismo trasforma in catena lunga, EPA e DHA , e gli Omega 9 delle olive, oltre, a tutti gli integratori, già metabolizzati, tipo minerali, Oligoelementi Bio Catalizzatori e Aminoacidi e Vitamine, presenti nella mai Bevanda panacea a largo spettro che puoi trovare in prima pagina di GOOGLE, se digiti " Osso seppia proprietà terapeutiche farmacologiche " . Tutto questo ti rigenera tutte le cellule ENDOTELIALI !, migliorando le pareti di tutte le vene !( chiedere al prof. Paolo Zamboni che scientificamente ve lo può conferma re ! ) regolarizza i Trigliceridi, il Colesterolo e il FIBRINOGENO , oltre a percepire da subito, miglior Qualità del Sonno, ricordo dei Sogni al risveglio mattutino , maggior Energia giornaliera, minori , fino a sparire, di Stati di ANSIA e, alla fine, MIGLIORAMENTO DI TUTTE LE PATOLOGIE DEL SNC, sistema nervoso centrale, miglioramento del pH organismo, di bambini ragazzi iperattivi e loro crescita formazione ossea, meno o, alla fine zero stato di depressione e organismo Metereopatico e, nel tempo, post tre mesi, tantissimi altri miglioramenti, compresa la MS , SLA ed Alzheimer !!

      E_MAIL " ruggierifp@alice.it "

  2. There are no magic pills or homeopathic remedies which can replace a complete lifestyle. I'm sure cuttlefish and sepia are interesting supplements for those who wish to explore more about this. The above poster likes to give this advice to all bloggers on MS, in Italian and English :) But it takes daily exercise, good sleep, whole food nutrition with plenty of phytonutrients from colorful plants, UV rays, stress reduction, hydration, meditation and a vascularly healthy lifestyle to provide complete endothelial health. That's what Dr. Cooke taught us. There are no magic pills. And this is why so many become discouraged after trying a new drug or supplement. It just won't be enough.

  3. Hi Joan do you have a word about using millet instead of wheat for bread. I don't know if you thought your baking skills and knowledge would be tested

  4. Hi Soho--I assume millet would be a good alternative for gluten free baking. I'll include a link below. But I have zero baking skills :) We don't really don't eat any baked goods at all in our home. Jeff has cornflakes sometimes, if he wants cereal. I like oatmeal. I garden, and grow lots of vegetables. Our main meals consist of tons of greens and some form of protein, usually fish, chicken, or turkey. We also eat legumes (although Ashton Embry and I disagree on this :), and I make a mean hummus and egg plant moussaka. Have fun baking, let me know how it goes! http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09376.html