Does High Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?

Cardiovascular Disease is the #1 killer in the US.
For years we’ve been taught that eating fats and cholesterol increases our cholesterol levels and causes heart disease, which is a VERY outdated paradigm and we’re still losing over 650,000 people a year to heart disease.
 
Elevated cholesterol levels are NOT the reason people have heart attacks. We are a cholesterol phobic society which is causing a whole host of problems downstream AND not getting to the root cause of heart attacks and strokes in the meantime.

So if cholesterol is not the real cause of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and Heart Attacks? What is? 

First, let’s talk about the #1 prescribed medication in America-STATINS. Thirty percent of Americans over the age of 40 take a statin. That’s about 45 million people.
 
Statins are prescribed to reduce the production of cholesterol in hopes of reducing death from a heart attack or stroke. Do they work? Well, CVD is still the leading cause of death in America, so that tells me their efficacy in preventing deaths is limited.
 
Statins DO work very well in reducing the production of cholesterol but studies have shown that they only prevent death from a heart attack in about 2% of the people who take them. I’m not that impressed.

Let’s talk about the downsides of Statin drugs. There are many.

Muscle painMuscle loss (which is a measure of longevity)
Increased chance of diabetesDementia
Post-Menopausal weight gain
Low energy
Kidney stones Gallstones
Drop in testosterone
Osteoporosis (read more here)

This list is nothing to sneeze at!
 
Doctors have been convinced and literally sold on the idea that the lower their patients cholesterol levels, the better. I’ve seen men in my practice with total cholesterol levels of less than 120. That’s way too low and here’s why.
 
We NEED cholesterol to make hormones, to keep our brains and cell membranes pliable, to prevent dementia and cognitive decline, to maintain muscle, and to reduce inflammation.
 
LDL “the bad cholesterol” is produced in response to inflammation. The more inflammation = increased LDL levels and oxidation of cholesterol, which is a big problem. So we need to find out the cause and driver of that inflammation, not just squash the production of LDL with a Statin drug.
 
So, what can cause an inflammatory response?
An inflammatory diet with too many seed oils and processed foods
Celiac disease or a sensitivity to wheat/gluten
Elevated glucose levels
Elevated fasting insulin levels
.Underlying viral infection
Gut issues
Fatty liver (over 25% of Americans now have fatty livers)Low folate/B-12 status)
Stress
Poor sleep 
Sleep Apnea

If we ignore these and just prescribed a statin, overall health, longevity and quality of life will decline quickly as we age.  It’s not hard to see this playing out all around us.
 
So what should we be paying attention to, to prevent CVD and death?
Cholesterol levels in relation to other blood markers, density of LDL particles, how a person looks and feels, and tracking past and present numbers.

Is a cholesterol level of 200 or 240 terrible for everyone? No it’s not. We need to look at cholesterol levels in relation to glucose, A1c, fasting insulin and triglycerides, genetic markers, liver enzymes, CRP, fibrinogen and homocysteine levels. And triglyceride to total cholesterol ratio. This ratio is a great determining risk factor, but is not on most doctors’ radar.

Are the LDL particles small and dense or are they fluffy? You need the very available and more advanced lipid panel to determine this, called the Cardio IQ. And often you have to ask for it-ask. It’s covered by Medicare.

How is a person feeling? Looking? Do they have a big belly? How’s their energy? What are their symptoms? What’s their BMI and lifestyle? All of these along with cholesterol numbers, past and present, paint a more realistic picture of a person’s risk of CVD and heart attack. And they should all be taken into consideration before taking a statin.

 I don’t know how many of you have lost someone to CVD or have had your own experience but I do know that heart disease happens too often to ignore. Get in front of it. Do something about it!
 
If you’d like to know more about what blood markers are even more important than your cholesterol levels in determining your likelihood of having CVD OR if you’re interested in having someone in your camp, coaching you on real and doable life style changes, schedule a Discovery Call with me

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