A Long Family History of Stroke and Heart Disease – He wanted to know why.
He came in to see me and he looked stressed. He told me that just a few days ago he was in to see his primary doctor and he left the appointment very dissatisfied as well as a bit fearful.
This 42 year old father of 2 was concerned not only with his family history of heart attacks and stroke, he was concerned about how his future health was being handled. His doctor was paying attention to his Cholesterol numbers, like a hawk towards its dinner, but was that really what he needed – he wondered.
Yes, his cholesterol numbers were creeping up and he knew that the prescription for a statin drug was in the cards. Was that all it took? Somehow though, he wanted to find out more about what he could do to be proactive for his heart health. A man looking for solutions.
It is true that cholesterol numbers are important when it comes to the health of our cardiovascular system. But, those numbers are only a small part of the story. Over half of all heart attacks occur with people that have perfectly ‘normal’ cholesterol numbers.
I appreciated his honesty and his concern for his health as well as for his family’s future. I told him that there are actually more important blood markers, rather than cholesterol, for heart disease and stroke. The amount of inflammation, sugar, homocysteine, triglycerides and the types of cholesterol particles are more important.
When we looked, the Inflammation was somewhat raised and his cholesterol particles were a bit out of whack, but his homocysteine and triglycerides were through the roof. High levels of this homocysteine tend to be hereditary, so I suggested that he test his son and daughter.
Homocysteine will damage the inner lining of the arteries which invites a plaque buildup. Blood vessels that are not damaged do not get plaque buildup. So, it is more important to look at the things that can cause blood vessel damage rather than only the cholesterol.
Blaming cholesterol for the plaque buildup in arteries is a bit like blaming the firemen for the fire. They were there, but they didn’t cause it. The research is actually quite good on this. That’s why it is known now that coronary heart disease is more of a blood vessel lining disorder than a cholesterol deposit disorder.
We started him on some simple supplements that addressed his weakness towards having high homocysteine, high triglycerides and high tiny particle cholesterol numbers. He needs to be better about his diet also, this meant eating less sugar and simple carbohydrates such as cereal and breads.
With some diet recommendations, some phytonutrients and higher levels of certain vitamins and minerals, his numbers came to be in a healthier range. This is particularly important since he has a family history of heart problems (All told: 3 heart attacks, 1 deadly, 2 strokes). He told me once that he felt as though he was just waiting for the heart attack as if it was inevitable.
If he would have been medicated for only his cholesterol numbers, he may have had blood vessel damage with perfectly ‘good’ cholesterol numbers. Would this really be preventative?
Information is power when understood properly and then acted upon. Knowing his individual biochemistry and his weaknesses become his new health program. It was now a targeted approach, specifically for him. This was a relief for him and gave him purpose for himself as well as his kids. Stopping the family history of heart disease and stroke.
It is very important to understand that we are all different, both inside and out. We have individual needs when it comes to nutrition and supplementation. Putting good blood tests to work for our benefit puts a whole new spin on what we can do for our own health. This is much better than feeling out of control by relying on a drug that has dangerous side effects that may not be addressing the real problem.
Take control of your health and be proactive towards it. Remember, knowledge is power only if you know it and act upon it. Find out your genetic individuality today and become empowered.