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Remembering Tim Russert One Year Later

Friday, June 19, 2009

The world of journalism lost one of its very best when NBC's Tim Russert died a premature death from coronary disease one year ago this week. 
Tim's best-selling book, Big Russ and Me, has a chapter simply titled "Food." The Russert family apparently loved high-calorie junk food and that type of love, unfortunately, leads to excess fat and disease.

Excess fat puts stress on the endothelial cells lining our blood vessels, and this causes a condition known as endothelial dysfunction - the earliest sign that our vascular health could be taking a turn for the worse. New research suggests that obesity is a heart disease risk factor, but it's not just the excessively overweight who are at risk. In fact, the new research suggests that even those extra nine or ten "vanity pounds" could be putting our hearts in very serious danger.

Tim Russert wrote in his book that his father, Big Russ, frequently said to his children, "You gotta eat," and that he did because he was apparently a loving and passionate man who enjoyed his short life to the fullest, and tasty food is often a passionate joy for this type of personality. We do have to eat, but most of us need to eat higher-quality food in much smaller portions, if we expect to live a long healthy life, doing what we like to do.

Given all the science that links excess high-calorie food and low-nutrient intake to all degenerative disease including eye disease, portion control and exercise must become a subject at every family dinner table. Each of us needs to take more personal responsibility for our own health so that disease prevention and some form of universal healthcare can actually become an affordable reality.

Tim Russert's personal physician, Dr. Michael Newman, was quoted saying, "Tim did not have diabetes and his LDL was 68 (70 or less is the current recommended level). The problem was that Tim carried excess weight (fat) around his middle; a known risk factor for heart disease." He went on to say, "In general, our waist measurement needs to be no more than one half our height measurement and Tim's was considerably larger than that."

To our knowledge, a complete list of the drug therapies prescribed for Tim has not been released, but one wonders if he was told by his physician to supplement with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to replace that depleted by the statin drug he was reportedly taking. Sudden heart failure has been linked in a large number of clinical studies to CoQ10 deficiency.

Doctors everywhere, including many of those on the Biosyntrx scientific advisory board, reported that their phones were ringing off the wall after Tim's death with calls from both patients and friends who wanted to discuss a heart- and eye- healthy lifestyle. This is not rocket science: if your waistline is larger than it should be, that fat is cranking out silent inflammation and you are at dangerous risk of all degenerative disease, so you need to change your ways.
Tim's death was an in-our-face dramatic reminder that we all need to pay more attention to disease risk factors. The good news is that a number of peer-reviewed studies suggest that healthy lifestyle changes, including smoking cessation, caloric restriction, better nutrition and regular moderate exercise can make a tremendous difference in longevity and the quality of the years we live.

Ellen Troyer, MT MA
Biosyntrx Chief Research Officer


The take-home message for all of us from this sad loss is to to "wake up" and do everything we can to lower our risk of degenerative disease.

Dan Roberts, the director of has graciously shared the 2009 Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) annual report that he prepares for the International Macular Degeneration Support Group.  Dan did a fabulous job of covering a number of ARVO presentations, as well as a few 2009 Biosyntyrx Friday Pearls.  Pour yourself an extra cup of coffee and watch and listen to Dan's presentation on the link below.  I promise you will find it interesting.

Crestpoint Management, LTD instrument announcement:
Small Incision Manipulating Forceps. 2-896.


Endothelial dysfunction in obesity: ethiological role in atherosclerosis. Meyers MR. Gokce N. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes 2007 Oct; 14(5): 365-9 [abstract]

Modest Fat Gain Causes Endothelial Dysfunction in Lean Healthy Humans: A Randomized Blinded Controlled Trial. Huyber CM, Votruba SM, et al. Circulation 2007; 116.16 Supplement 797 [ supplement on file in Biosyntrx research office]

Coenzyme Q10 and statins: biochemical and clinical implications. Littarru GP, Langsjoen P. Mitochondrion 2007 Jun;7 Suppl: S168-74 2007 Mar 27 [abstract]

Coenzyme Q10 and high C-reactive protein in ischemic and idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. Senes M, Erbay AR, et al. Clin Chem Lab Med 2008;46(3):382-6 [abstract]

Treatment of hypertension with nutraceuticals, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Houston MC. Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther. 2007 Jul;5(4): 689-91 [abstract]

Obesity and Eye Diseases. Cheung N, Wong TY. Surv Ophthalmol. 2007 Sep-Oct;52(5):556-7 [abstract]

Obesity is a risk factor for eye diseases (Review). Gabot-Wilner Z, Belkin M. Harafuah, 2005 Nov;144(11):805-9, 821 [abstract]