With cardiovascular disease claiming the lives of one out of two people in America today, it’s no wonder people look to medicine for help in preventing heart attacks and strokes.
However, the focus on high cholesterol as the main cause of heart attacks and strokes is woefully misguided and misinformed. The clinically proven indicators of cardiovascular disease include elevated levels of triglycerides, insulin, cortisol, C-reactive protein and others, but not high cholesterol.
What About Cholesterol?
Unfortunately, medical studies show that lowering your cholesterol won’t actually lower your risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke. According to William Castelli, M.D., a former director of the Framingham Heart Study, people with low cholesterol (lower than 200) suffer nearly 40 percent of all heart attacks.
In addition, people with lower cholesterol (less than 180) have three times as many strokes as the general population. Yes, you read that correctly.
And the kicker, half of all heart attacks occur in people with ‘normal’ cholesterol levels!
What are the Real Risk Factors for Heart Attack and Stroke?
The following 12 items are some of the most important clinical indicators that show you have a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. They are all simple to test for.
1. Cardiac arrhythmia. This includes atrial fibrillation and other disruptions of the heart’s normal rhythm.
2. Elevated triglycerides. Particularly an elevated ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol. Studies have implicated triglycerides in the progression of coronary atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
3. Elevated homocysteine. One study found that men with extremely high homocysteine levels were three times more likely to have a heart attack than others. (damages the inside of arteries)
4. Elevated Fasting Insulin. Insulin is a major metabolic and hormone disrupter.
5. Elevated Cortisol levels. High levels of cortisol (stress hormone) are associated with hypertension, which increases your cardiovascular risk. Patients with heart diseases exhibit higher cortisol levels than do others. Stress is arguably the largest contributing factor for Heart Disease and Stroke.
6. Elevated estrogen in respect to progesterone.
7. Low testosterone (in men). Higher levels of testosterone has been found to offer men greater than five-fold protection against coronary artery disease.
8. High testosterone (in women).
9. Lipid peroxide. Lipid peroxides are the oxidation damage to the lipid (fat) components of cell membranes. High levels of lipid peroxides are associated with cancer, heart disease, stroke, and aging.
10. Elevated C-reactive protein. C-reactive protein is a marker associated with production of inflammatory biochemicals, which represent a threat to cardiovascular health. Men with CRP values in the highest percentages had three times as many heart attacks and two times as many ischemic strokes as the general population. Have, High Sensitivity C-reactive Protein (hs-CRP) checked.
11. Elevated Lipoprotein (a) One of the cholesterol family particles that causes the most damage.
12. Hypothyroidism A far reaching and increasingly common dysfunction and should be tested.
Other risk factors include magnesium deficiency, B vitamin deficiency and fatty acid imbalances.
Is It Hard to Manage Your Risk Factors?
The good news is that it may not take a long time to rectify the imbalances that show up in a thorough cardiovascular evaluation.
One 54-year-old patient of mine with high blood pressure and elevated triglycerides was able to lower her risk factors in just six weeks from 12 to only 4.
Another client of mine, a man age 50, was able to control his mild high blood pressure and his atrial dysrhythmia in just 3 short weeks.
It comes down to pin pointing what is in the way of health and giving the body what it needs to make its own corrections.
If you have a history of Heart Disease or Strokes in your family, I implore you to get these simple tests done. If you have no information or only part of it, such as high cholesterol, you may think you are doing what you need, but are only being short sighted.