Ask the Pharmacist: Bernie Sanders and the heart attack

Suzy Cohen
FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 9, 2019 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a rally at a campaign stop, in Denver. Sanders had a heart attack, his campaign confirmed Friday, Oct. 4, 2019,  as the Vermont senator was released from a Nevada hospital. Sanders' campaign released a statement from the 78-year-old's Las Vegas doctors that said the senator was stable when he arrived Tuesday at Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) ORG XMIT: CAET417

Would you know right away if you were having a heart attack? Symptoms include a heartburn-like sensation, tightness in your chest/arms. Nausea, throat or jaw pain may occur, as well as fatigue and mild dizziness.

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Sometimes there’s a cold sweat, but not always. Does this sound like how you feel after pouring too much hot sauce on a large burrito? Like, it’s easy to miss until it gets serious!

Recently, the Democratic presidential candidate experienced some chest pain and was hospitalized while working in Las Vegas, Nevada. His campaign events were obviously canceled and later, we would find out that it was a mild heart attack.

It strikes someone every 43 seconds. Unbalanced cholesterol might certainly contribute, but there are other deficiencies involved in the making of a heart attack.

Vitamin C

Keeping your arteries elastic and bendable is important and that’s where vitamin C can help. It is required for making collagen which keeps your arteries supple and free of cracking.


There is collagen in your heart, it’s everywhere. Too much glycation of the collagen and too many AGEs causes your arteries to stiffen up. The problem isn’t the collagen, you want that! The problem is the glycation, which is where a glucose molecule binds to something else that’s important in your body (like a protein) and destroys it. Like with arteries, they get stiffer and non-compliant, that’s dangerous.


This is an amino acid that’s associated with sleep or with body-building because it helps make creatine, which is an energy-producing compound and the most abundant protein in collagen.

There was an interesting 2016 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association which found an inverse relationship with glycine and the heart. The patients with angina were evaluated over seven years, and those with healthy, normal amounts of glycine had a lower risk of heart attack.

CoQ10 and Ubiquinol

Coenzyme Q10 is an essential life-sustaining compound in our body, and our heart would stop beating quickly if we ran out of this. That’s because it’s concentrated in the heart.

We make this antioxidant, but it’s depleted by about 100 or more different medications, more than likely one you take! If that’s the case, consider supplementation. Evidence is crystal clear, the lower your CoQ10 levels, the higher the risk for all kinds of problems including heart failure, arrhythmias and heart attack.


Plaque accumulation will cause a blockage of blood flow, therefore reduced blood supply to the heart, and that’s the mechanism which can cause a heart attack. It’s amazing that garlic has been shown to reduce plaque buildup in arteries.

Even statins don’t do that, they just reduce your production of cholesterol in the liver, leaving the arteries and blood vessels just as clogged as they were before. But garlic is like a Dyson with suction power to sweep out plaques in the body. You can cook with it, sprinkle it, or take aged garlic supplements.

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit