This week I have been thinking a lot about a few people I love and recently lost to heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer's.
I often think of them and this pushes me daily to keep reminding myself, family and the community to keep working to support heart and brain health. These conditions are largely preventable and we know how important nutrition and lifestyle play in its development.
Having your blood evaluated for other risk factors gives us more information regarding your treatment program to prevent a cardiovascular event ie a heart attack or a stroke.
Cholesterol is a good test to evaluate risk but 50% of people who have had a cardiovascular event have normal cholesterol! And many of us with high cholesterol never develop heart disease. So the standard cholesterol panel is really outdated.
Cholesterol science is rapidly evolving and here are some exciting new markers that more accurately evaluate risk.
LDL cholesterol is classically called the “bad” cholesterol but we now know that this group is a family and can be classified based on size and certain protein flags on their surface. Scientists have looked at this and found that the small, dense LDL is the most dangerous. Especially if inflammation is high. We now know that the larger LDL cholesterol is less dangerous. If you have high LDL cholesterol we need to first evaluate if you have dangerous levels of the small dense LDL.
Remnant lipoproteins are another type of cholesterol that is a risk factor associated with coronary heart disease and is related to insulin resistance. This is highly atherogenic, causing platelet aggregation and impairs vascular relaxation. It is also a major component of plaque. It is a remnant lipoprotein that carries cholesterol into the arterial wall making it more atherogenic. These are often elevated in those with the metabolic syndrome of insulin resistance.
We are finding that high-quality omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA are good at lowering small LDL and remnant lipoprotein.
Other nutrients that help with cholesterol control are berberine, niacin and omega 3 fatty acids.
inflammation and insulin resistance is another major risk factor that you should explore.
CRP (hs): elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) indicate inflammation due to infection or tissue injury anywhere in the body. If both the CRP and the Lp-PLA2 levels are high, the risk for a heart attack or stroke increases significantly. Exercise along with many natural nutrients like omega 3 oils, turmeric, ginger and pigmented vegetables and berries lower CRP.
Homocysteine: high levels may cause injury to blood vessel walls increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke, osteoporosis and peripheral artery disease. Reducing homocysteine is done with methylating nutrients such as B12, Folate, betaine HCL and B6.
Spectracell's Cardiometabolic lab provides these tests and many more (click to read more).
The development of heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer's disease occurs over time and for the most part, it is silent.
We have been tracking these markers for years now and it is always a nice feeling when we can look back and see the changes we make!
Around this time of year, I always begin the reach out to my clients and even family to remind them to keep this one up to date. I also recommend this testing for those following a low carb and keto diet, experiencing blood sugar issues, metabolic syndrome, PCOS or have a family risk of heart disease or Al.
Begin monitoring your risks as part of your healthy aging plan!