Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
May 7, 2023 [printfriendly]
Since my diagnosis of incurable multiple myeloma in September 2018, I have successfully maintained my quality of life and stabilized the progression of this bone marrow cancer. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my story, I was given 3-6 months to live. After determining that traditional methods such as chemotherapy wouldn’t stop the cancer, and would impact the quality of my life, I created what I call my Unconventional Cancer Protocols. While I have never been in remission, I’ve surprised everyone, including my doctors, with both my progress and perseverance. I share my methods openly as well as my ups and downs, in hopes that I can help you from finding yourself in a similar situation.
When I contracted COVID-19 in 2021, it caused an activation of my multiple myeloma. I’ve been dealing with Long Haulers COVID, which I discuss in this blog, and now I’m seeing further complications. I’ve always been transparent, and I’d like to share my current battle with you.
Diagnosis of A-Fib and Anemia
On Monday, 5/1/23 I had to go to my internist. I had been exceptionally weak and out of breath following just simple physical movements. After taking a few steps from my living room sofa to the bathroom, I would feel exhausted and needed to sit down.
Billy, my Internist for over 35 years, examined me and took an EKG. I was in atrial fibrillation. I have never been in A-Fib.
I then saw my on oncologist on Tuesday, 5/2/23. My blood work showed my hemoglobin to be at an extremely low level.
The decisions were made. I had A-Fib and severe anemia. I needed to integrate some conventional meds to address A-Fib, and I needed to have a blood transfusion of packed red blood cells to improve my hemoglobin. Both needed to be done ASAP.
My internist and oncologist both agreed that the COVID-19 virus had a lot to do with these manifestations.
I’ll share some facts about COVID, A-Fib, Anemia, and my integration of conventional medical treatments while still emphasizing my Unconventional Cancer Protocols.
COVID and Atrial Fibrillation
This video helps visualize the comparison of a normal heart rhythm to one with A-Fib:
An April 2022 study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology stated that new-onset atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) occurred in 1 out of 20 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Researchers in this study examined nearly 28,000 patients without a history of A-Fib who were hospitalized for COVID-19.
A-Fib is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. At least 2.7 million Americans are living with A-Fib.
In this paper, new-onset A-Fib was strongly associated with increased in-hospital mortality and major adverse cardiovascular events. Of the patients in the study, those who developed new-onset A-Fib while hospitalized experienced longer hospital stays and greater need for ICU care and intubation and approximately 45% died in the hospital.
COVID and Anemia
COVID-19 also affects the blood. In this 2021 paper, the authors discuss the pathogenesis and clinical significance of COVID and anemia. This other paper published in 2023 discusses the connection between COVID and anemia.
Anemia is a disease that occurs when the blood does not have enough healthy red blood cells to circulate oxygen throughout the body. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a protein responsible for transporting and delivering oxygen to organs and tissues.
Having anemia means your hemoglobin levels are low, and your body is not getting enough oxygen. Without oxygen, the body lacks the energy needed to function, which causes symptoms like shortness of breath and fatigue.
Anemia has many causes and can either be a short-term or long-term condition. If left untreated, anemia has severe symptoms that may become life-threatening.
COVID-19 patients develop inflammation that causes a reduction in intestinal iron absorption and changes in iron hemostasis, resulting in reduced production of hemoglobin.
Anemia affects the body’s immunity.
In addition, anemia activates the body’s sympathetic nervous system, leading to increased heart rate, pulmonary capillary leakage, and high blood pressure, which causes acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). A patient with COVID-19 ARDS develops worse outcomes than typical ARDS, often resulting in respiratory failure, circulatory failure, and myocardial damage.
My Treatment for A-Fib and Anemia
My heart rhythm must be restored to normal; my risk of a stroke must be minimized; and my hemoglobin level must be increased.
I started treatment on Monday, 5/2/23.
I began taking two conventional heart meds to stabilize the heart rhythm as well as Eliquis to prevent a stroke. On 5/4/23, I received a pint of packed red blood cells via venal infusion to elevate my hemoglobin levels. I may need additional transfusions before my hemoglobin is restored to a healthy range.
Let me emphasize that I have not changed my Unconventional Cancer Protocols. These protocols have helped my immune system from day One of my diagnosis and are seminal to my overall wellness program.
I also continue to monitor my NLR.
The NLR is the Neutrophil/Lymphocyte Ratio. Neutrophils and Lymphocytes are two different white blood cells that can be identified in a Complete Blood Count (CBC) blood test. It is a reliable blood marker for systemic inflammation in many chronic diseases as well as a most robust marker for COVID. In addition, it is an indicator of the survival prognosis for multiple myeloma patients. A rising NLR may suggest a poorer prognosis as multiple myeloma progresses.
A normal NLR is between 1:1 and 3:1. In this published study, the average NLR for hospitalized COVID patients was 6.15. When that ratio rose above 8.17 in the study, the risk of death increased. Strikingly, my NLR on 11/2/21 was 42.0 – a seriously disturbing level when I was diagnosed with COVID in November 2021! However, I was able to significantly reduce the NLR as I healed from COVID using my Protocols after my first bout with COVID.
This time around with Long Haulers COVID, my NLR was 11.6 on March 7, 2023, and then increased to 22.3 on April 4, 2023. But on May 2, 2023, the NLR dropped to 11.7, which is definitely moving in the right direction now.
My goal is to continue to reduce the NLR. I was able to do this before, and I am determined to do it again. It appears that I am being successful!
Getting Back to Normal
While my body is struggling right now, my mind is sharp. If you have health concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I believe that the reason I’m still here is to help others. I’ve turned “3 months to live” into 5 well-earned years while maintaining the quality of my life. No gatekeeping here. I want to help you reach your health goals and prevent anyone else from struggling with illness. Here’s the link to set up a complimentary 30 minutes with me.
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