Even though heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., you have more influence in helping to prevent it than you think. Cholesterol levels (good and bad), stress, neurotransmitters, hormones, vitamin D, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), even tea and chocolate play roles in heart heath you can control.
Why High Cholesterol Is Not An Effective Evaluative Measure?
Preventing heart disease requires much more than simply screening for high cholesterol. Fifty percent of all people who have a heart attack have normal cholesterol. What’s more, an estimated 80 percent of patients who develop coronary artery disease have cholesterol levels comparable to those in healthy individuals, according to the American Journal of Cardiology. [pullquote] Very low cholesterol may mean your body is “shutting down” and not able to make its own cholesterol.[/pullquote]
Cholesterol is carried throughout the body in little balls called lipoproteins. It is the lipoproteins, not the cholesterol in them that leads to clogged arteries. Standard cholesterol testing provides only part of the picture, leaving many people with “normal” cholesterol numbers unaware they are still at risk for a heart attack. Prevention of heart disease really means “preventing” disease and should not be confused with early detection using the standard cardiovascular testing.
While these tests are important they are “after the fact”. Having a detailed lipoprotein particle profile specialty test gives you and your doctor the information needed to make effective treatment decisions to reduce your risk of heart disease and even a heart attack. This test could save your life.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease (CAD), one type of heart disease, is the leading cause of heart attacks. The most common cause of CAD is atherosclerosis, a condition that occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. “About three-quarters of the population older than 30 years has some lesion related to atherosclerosis in the arterial tree. This lesion gets worse almost every day in all these people and will eventually result in closure of a vital artery in half of them, causing their death,” said William P. Castelli, MD, director Framingham Heart Study.
Inflammation’s Role In Heart Disease
Heart disease, like so many other diseases is primarily caused by inflammation. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an inflammatory condition like arthritis. A recent article published in Arthritis Rheumatism noted, “Overall, there was a 50 percent increased risk of death in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
When looking at causes of specific deaths, patients with RA had a 59 percent increased risk of dying from ischemic heart disease (heart attack) compared with the general population and a 52 percent increased risk of death due to strokes.” This evidence underscores the urgency of assessing patients with more advanced cardiovascular risk biomarkers than those included in standard lipid panels.
Cholesterol And Statins
The National Institutes of Health recommends that if you are diagnosed with high cholesterol you should use lifestyle changes for 12 weeks. If your cholesterol has not lowered after 3 months then consider using a statin. Unfortunately, most physicians do not follow these guidelines. Most physicians reach for the prescription pad and write an order for a statin.
A study published in the American Heart Journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, January, 2009 found that nearly two-thirds of patients admitted to hospitals for heart attacks and cardiovascular events had low LDL-cholesterol levels, indicating they were not at high risk for heart problems.
Statins should be carefully considered. Statins can also lower your cholesterol to a dangerously low level. An analysis at the University of California at San Francisco of studies on ”a heart drug” showed that 96% of authors with drug company ties showed it to be safe, compared to 37% of authors with no ties. American Medical News. Sept 2000.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a lipid-soluble antioxidant. CoQ10 is an essential cofactor in the mitochondria which are located in the cell and responsible for energy production. CoQ10 deficiency has been implicated in several clinical disorders including but not limited to heart failure, hypertension, Parkinson’s Disease, and cancer.
Statins lower CoQ10. This is a long-overlooked but grave problem. CoQ10 supplementation is essential for anyone on a statin. In the Archives of Neurology, June 2004 research showed that after 14 days of using a statin, the levels of CoQ10 were lowered.
The Dangers Of Low Cholesterol
Unfortunately the dangers of low cholesterol have been less well publicized. There is a wealth of articles and health books that discuss how to prevent high cholesterol, but very few on how to prevent or treat abnormally low cholesterol. At an international medical conference in London in November 2010, speakers presented the data showing cholesterol below 160 was associated with doubling the risk of cancer.
Abnormally Low Levels Of Cholesterol May Indicate
- Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland
- Liver disease
- Inadequate absorption of nutrients from the intestines
- Poor metabolism
- Compromised health
Similarly, patients with environmental illness often have low cholesterol including those with sensitivity to foods, chemical or frequencies, like Wi-Fi. Infertility has been linked to low cholesterol.
Cholesterol Is Essential For
- Formation and maintenance of cell membranes (essential for life)
- Formation of hormones (progesterone, testosterone, estradiol, cortisol)
- Production of bile salts, which help to digest food
- Conversion into vitamin D in the skin when exposed to sunlight.
Very low cholesterol may mean your body is “shutting down” and not able to make its own cholesterol.