Controlling cholesterol is gospel in heart medicine. It guides treatment, and sell billions of dollars in drugs. Ask your doctor or pharmacist what cholesterol lowering drugs they take. The answer will probably be none.
We all are told bad cholesterol, LDL causes heart attacks and good cholesterol HDL, is protective. But why do people with great cholesterol levels still suffer heart attacks?
Twenty-one years ago, the FDA approved the first statin drugs to lower LDL. 18-year-old kids killed in the Korean War already had plaque build up. The disease really starts as kids.
But is there a missing link called inflammation that may be a high risk factor.
Cholesterol builds cell membranes, and forms hormones. It doesn’t dissolve in the blood but is carried by lipoproteins as LDL from the liver to other tissues and by HDL from tissues to the liver.
Since lowering the bad LDL cholesterol works in reducing deaths from heart disease, how far can we lover LDL. We consider less than 130 a good LDL level, but is that good enough?
Studies now show that adding other cholesterol lowering drugs that lowered LDL below 120 did not lead to healthier arteries, and in fact may raise the risk of cancer.
Because the link between excessive LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular disease has been so widely accepted, the FDA generally has not required drug companies to prove that cholesterol medicines actually reduce heart attacks before approval. So far, proof that a drug lowers LDL cholesterol has generally been enough to lead to approval.
HDL is more poorly understood. It has many functions: to handle inflammation, blood clotting, oxidizing molecules and more. No one really proved that HDL takes cholesterol out of arteries as believed. Yet raising HDL does prevent heart disease.
Knowing what drugs do to LDL and HDL doesn’t tell us what they do to people. Its amazing that so many of us have bought the idea that stains are magic. It is doubtful that they have anti-inflammatory effects preventing heart disease.
Yet all the drug companies are on the march with new drugs to control cholesterol. You will be prescribed many more drugs to enchance the lowering of your LDL And all of it will empty your pocket books. You are told you can’t have too low of a cholesterol. This is now controversial.
Low cholesterol may alter mood and behavior. Cholesterol is a part of most brain biochemicals. Serotonin drops in the blood.
Low total cholesterol below 150 increases the risk of a bleeding stroke. If there also is high blood pressure the risk increases 6 fold. Postmenopausal depression and suicides are increased.
Why not try psyllium, a soluble fiber from flax seeds found in Metamucil. It reduces total cholesterol 15%. Fish oil stabilizes the electrical activity of the heart and lowers cholesterol. Niacin also can lower blood fats and reduces LDL as well as total cholesterol by up to 20%.
Stop eating red meat with its fat and cholesterol. Homocysteine is a by-product of meat metabolism. Animal protein is broken down into an amino acid, homocyteine. This is linked to heart attacks and strokes. Vitamins B6 and folic acid lowers the homocyhsteine levels. So eat lots of vegetables.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist what cholesterol lowering drugs they take. The answer will probably be none. “I only sell or prescribe them to you!”
Another risk factor plays an important role. CRP, reactive protein, a high marker of inflammation often found in the obese and diabetics. When CRP is lower, plaques don’t break lose and cause heart attacks.