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Food as Medicine in the Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure


Holistic Practitioner Spotlight with Dr. Stephen Sinatra, an Integrative Cardiologist

We are speaking with Dr. Stephan Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S, C.B.T,  on the topic of Congestive Heart Failure and how he helps his patients suffering from heart disease by integrating the best of both conventional and alternative therapies to achieve positive outcomes for his patients. He believes that the most important health decisions we make each day revolve around food and other lifestyle choices.

Tell Us a Story About a Patient with Congestive Heart Failure and How You Helped

I believe that true healing occurs when doctors “partner” with patients to help them be proactive about their health, and I was always most happy when I could reduce or eliminate the pharmaceutical drug dosages that my patients had to take. We’d work on supporting their health with an anti-inflammatory diet, nutritional supplements and other lifestyle changes.

Medications can have so many negative side effects

Literally every patient I treated was relieved to cut back on their prescribed medications when we could. To that end, Coenzyme Q10 (“CoQ10” or Ubiquinone) was the top supplement I relied on for supporting heart health– whether it be to treat high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, angina and heart attack recovery, congestive heart failure, or to prepare for open heart surgery. To this day, CoQ10 remains my number-one recommended supplement for heart health support.

“Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

I also loved employing healthy, whole, organic/sustainably produced foods as a form of medicine. Years in clinical practice made it painfully clear how a poorly processed-food diet (like our “Standard American Diet” or SAD) could lead to debilitating diseases like diabetes, obesity, cancer and heart disease. And after becoming certified in nutrition and anti-aging medicine, I really began viewing what we eat and drink as being some of the most important health decisions we make every day, and I even treated patients with specific foods.

A key case that comes to mind is a Rabbi that I treated so many years ago.

When 80 year old retired Rabbi W. came to see me, he weighed 90 pounds. Although he was only 5 feet tall and small-framed, he was 25 pounds underweight.  He came in feeling weak and short of breath. Even minimal activity rendered him breathless. As with most people aging with his conditions, he became weaker, more easily fatigued, and had some loss of appetite and pleasure in life (anhedonia). His activities of daily living had been gradually compromised so that he was less able to participate in his cherished community gatherings. The rabbi slowly became more limited to a quiet life at home.

Over the years, the Rabbi had many cardiac complications following his heart attack: atrial fibrillation, a pacemaker, aneurysm surgery, and congestive heart failure.To monitor and assess how effectively his heart was able to pump blood and how well his cardiac arrhythmia was being controlled, he repeatedly, throughout his recurrent hospitalizations, underwent blood-work, electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, Muga scans, and Holter monitors. 

Traditional Pharmaceutical Protocol for Heart Conditions

Along with the surgeries, his previous physicians employed the usual medications generally used at the time.  Most prominently those were Lanoxin(digitalis) to strengthen the hearts contracting ability to keep blood moving forward out of the heart; Lasix (furosemide), a diuretic to take the fluid load off the heart; and potassium to replace that which is lost by flushing the kidneys with Lasix. 

At the time of his office visit with me, his condition of congestive heart failure (CHF) was confirmed by echocardiograms and Muga scans, which showed a markedly reduced cardiac output. I used the best interventions at my disposal at the time.

Adding Nutritional Supplements

Together, we worked to reduce his symptoms and improve his quality of life using both the standard pharmaceutical protocol and nutritional supplements. I started the Rabbi on a good basic multivitamin and mineral formula, as well as low dose magnesium to support his heart energy levels and assist in stabilizing his atrial fibrillation.  I tried the Rabbi on CoEnzyme Q10. I was learning myself those days to see the heart in terms of its “bioenergetics”.  CHF is basically the result of what I refer to as an “energy starved heart”.

Co-Q10 The Most Important Supplement but Not Well Tolerated for Some

CoQ10 is the most important supplement for congestive heart failure because it boosts ATP production and energy in the cellular mitochondria, which enables the heart to pump more effectively and efficiently. In addition to CHF, CoQ10 helps with other cardiac conditions, such as arrhythmia. However, the Rabbi was unable to tolerate even the smallest dose of the CoQ10 supplement I had prescribed to help improve his heart function. 

“I feel jittery, doctor”.

Right from the start, the CoQ10 interfered with his ability to fall asleep at night. I had to take into account that the Rabbi was a small man. I recognized his symptoms as rare side effects of CoQ10’s energy enhancing properties. You see, even the best supplement may have a side effect in a few people.

An “AHA!” moment happened when I reassessed his game plan

I looked to food sources that could offer enough CoQ10 to relieve the Rabbi’s symptoms without tipping the scales with too much cellular energy enhancement. I remembered that migratory (wild) salmon is one of the best food sources of CoQ10. A typical salmon serving is the equivalent of 5-10mg of CoQ10. That was ½ of the lowest does I could give him in a supplement form. 

The Rabbi’s wife found a kosher, low-salt Scottish salmon at their deli and gave him small servings each morning. The Rabbi was able to tolerate that for several weeks and I was able to transition him over to the very lowest dose CoQ10 supplement (30mg). It ended up that the dietary salmon became a “bridge” for the Rabbi to comfortably start low dose supplements. That was an important lesson for me.

Tolerating that, the Rabbi felt calmer and was sleeping better. As his appetite and energy gradually improved, he was able to leave the house more often to socialize with friends and renew some temple attendance. Soon, other Rabbis in my care were asking, “What did you do for Rabbi W.? He is feeling so much better and enjoying life again!”

The Rabbi was a Blessing to Me and to Others

I often shared with family, friends and colleagues one of my favorite moments with the Rabbi. Hospitalized for another recurrent bout of CHF—which can be the nature of that condition—he had improved enough to leave the CCU (ICU for cardiology patients) and enjoy the “pleasures” of a room on the adjacent “step down” unit. Pleasures being the ability to walk about the room and hallway, have a big window view, and opt to use the television set. I had stopped in to see the Rabbi on rounds when it all broke loose: My pager was going off rapid fire. I had three simultaneous cardiac emergencies elsewhere in the hospital! Then a “code” (cardiac arrest) was announced over the PA system and I was paged to the emergency room– stat. That meant it was my patient. I got up to literally run to respond. The always-kind Rabbi looked up at me with those big, sincere eyes and calmly, quietly spoke:

“Spend a moment with a holy man. Let me give you a blessing.”

I paused to bend my head in joint prayer while he placed his hand on it and blessed me. Ten to fifteen seconds at most, but it felt so much longer. Then, I rushed out of his room with my coattails flying! All I know is, I felt more centered than just before his powerful blessing. And best of all – all three of my patients ”made it” that morning!

Why and When Did You Choose the Integrative Path?

My mom was a brittle diabetic. She developed Type 1 diabetes after being given massive doses of corticosteroids to treat her macular degeneration. Disease wreaked havoc on her health. Even as a boy watching her suffer, I knew there had to be a better way…there had to be more to medicine than pharmaceutical drugs with such costly side effects. I was compelled to become a doctor to help people like her.

In my early years as a doctor, I practiced what I called, “revolving door medicine…” I’d see people in the E.R. for cardiac events, then send them home – only to see them again for similar problems soon after. I saw a need for lifestyle interventions, and that surgical and pharmaceutical care needed to be followed up with a more integrated approach to healing and recovery.

The Rabbi’s case and others like it put me on another journey…. How to better follow the words of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. In addition to “First, do no harm”, my mantra included “Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

So I went “back to school” – so to speak. I began learning everything I could to be able to integrate lifestyle modification and nutritional interventions into my practice. I dove deep into nutrition and mind-body medicine and studied for years to become certified in both Gestalt and Bioenergetic psychotherapies, which included my own personal psychotherapy sessions.

As an integrative cardiologist, I treated patients using the best alternative treatments as well as the best conventional ones (pharmaceutical drugs DO have a place in medicine). I also discovered the world of energy, or vibrational medicine, which I believe is the medicine of the future, and became a student of grounding practices: connecting our bodies to Mother Earth for improved health.

After studying hard to be certified by the American College of Nutrition, I continue to attend conferences where I both teach and learn more about physiology and newer supplement ingredients being developed, among other cutting edge natural therapies. It has all been a great foundation for understanding the heart as it responds to emotional states, and the cellular biology of ATP and cellular energy production in health.

What Lessons Have Your Work and Personal Experiences Taught You?

I often joke that I am “an allopathic doctor in recovery.” Truth is, traditional interventional medicine is lifesaving in emergency situations. I would have been lost without invasive procedures, medical diagnostics and interventions, and pharmaceutical drugs when faced with cardiac emergencies, near death or sudden death. But allopathic medicine can leave us stuck in a revolving door if it is all we rely on.

I have learned so much about other aspects of healing and maintaining optimum health, and know that there are so many more facets to healing than what conventional medicine currently offers. From lifestyle changes and nutritional modalities, to spiritual insights and other health revelations, there is so much that is available to each and every one of us if we’re open to it. Having animal companions, for example, can really protect and even improve our health. With their unconditional love, pets really are true healers.

My most recent passion is bringing my own healthy food and pet products to the marketplace. I learn from patients, family, friends, and yes, even pets. It is so exciting to be able to provide people these options, as well as information that can help them be happy and healthy.

What Would You Like Patients to Know About Your Services that They May Not be Aware of?

I no longer see patients in a clinical setting, such as in my office or at the hospital. My hope is that I am able to reach and serve an even larger number of people through my books, websites, lectures, and YouTube videos. My passions now are to continue writing articles and books, and to personally develop health-sustaining products: nutritional supplements, and clean, nutritious food products of the highest quality that meet my standard of healthy eating.

You can find my health advice at my informational website, and  a site for my line of nutritional supplements. As an avid foodie, I also publish heart-healthy recipes and diet advice . I also am excited to now offer pet health advice, as well as my line of healthy pet treats and nutritional supplements.

Any Additional Comments…

My dream is to facilitate a medical model where the doctor of the future has both a Medical Degree (M.D.) and a Naturopathic Degree (N.D.). Educating health professionals, as well as the public, is key. I have contributed to multiple cardiology textbooks and written or co-written approximately 15 other books for the general public. Most recently, I co-authored a book about near-death experiences based on one man’s healing journey to the Other Side and back.


As a board-certified cardiologist with certifications in anti-aging medicine, nutrition, and bioenergetic psychotherapy, Dr. Sinatra integrates the best of both conventional and alternative therapies into his philosophies, and believes that the most important health decisions we make each day revolve around food and other lifestyle choices.

After actively practicing medicine for several decades, including 18 years as Director of Medical Education and 9 years as Chief of Cardiology at Manchester Memorial Hospital in CT, Dr. Sinatra began focusing on educating people, and providing products, to help them actively take control of their health.

An author of numerous books and peer-reviewed articles, he continuously publishes health information and the following product websites: his Mediterranean-inspired superfoods, his nutritional supplements and his healthy pet treats and pet supplements line

Stephen Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S, C.B.T
Integrative Cardiologist
Vervana, LLC
257 E. Center St.
Manchester, CT, 06040

Visit Dr. Sinatra’s Website

View other holistic practitioners, products or services like Dr. Sinatra’s in our Holistic Health Directory


Andy & Vinny DiLorenzo

About Us

As holistic dentists, we've recommended products and services that supported our patients’ health for decades. In experiencing our own health challenges from mercury toxicity, we worked closely with many natural, alternative, and integrative health practitioners who aided our recovery as well as our patients’. We built this site to provide you with a simple-to-use, comprehensive, informational, and functional resource for your physical, emotional, and spiritual health & well-being.

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