Cholesterol particle size matters

As per 2013, more than 1 in 3 adults (81.1 million) live with 1 or more types of cardiovascular disease. According to a government agency, there were 126.0 coronary heart disease deaths per 100,000 population in 2007. In addition to being the first and third leading causes of death, heart disease and stroke result in serious illness and disability, decreased quality of life, and hundreds of billions of dollars in economic loss every year. The statistics are similar for both women and men. A form of cardiac disease may occur at any age, with higher percentages at age 40 than at age 70. It can be a silent killer. Making sure you have cholesterol panel blood tests may help you measure possible ways of reducing your risk. How reliable are the standard lipid panel blood tests? They may not be.

One of the problems associated with the development and study of heart disease and its risk potential in the United States is that there is no national system to collect data on how often cardiovascular events occur or recur, or how often they result in death. Based on smaller studies, many outside the United States, vascular, cardiovascular, and heart disease statistics are astounding. Is the risk of developing heart disease 33%? Are doctors proactive in employing better testing?

A while back, a gastrointestinal specialist told me I had GERD, acid reflux disease. I didn’t seem to be getting upset by the associated risk factors. On a second opinion with a chief physician, she asked me whether I knew the type of GERD. I didn’t know. Obviously there are many types. When it comes to cholesterol and possible heart disease risks, cholesterol has many different subtypes. Some of these go beyond mere lipoprotein levels. Many subtypes and particle sizes come into play when trying to determine risk factors. Many cardiologists proceed with treatments, based on traditional blood test panels, prior to using studies that analyze cholesterol at deeper levels. For some, cholesterol particle size matters and can make a vast difference in a prognosis.

With all the chatter about cholesterol levels, when you check cholesterol particle size, size matters. Some particles of this blood fat are large and buoyant and breeze easily through your circulatory system. But other particles are small and dense — and four times as likely to cause heart disease as they are more likely to gather on your artery walls. So even if you have a low total cholesterol value, you may be at greater risk than you or your doctor might think.

When you are at a risk for cardiovascular diseases, with high LDL, you shouldn’t rely on the results found from a traditional blood test. There are other blood tests that help you get closer to the heart of the problem. Don’t get stressed till you ask your doctor to address this further. The tests are:

One test focuses on cholesterol particle size as well as subclasses or subtypes of LDL (the bad type) and HDL (the good type) levels that aren’t seen in a traditional blood test. The Vertical Auto Profile (VAP) test will analyze your LDL cholesterol and determine if it is made up of predominantly the small, dangerous particles or larger, more benign particles. It will also tell you how much lipoprotein is circulating in your blood. In addition, the VAP test breaks out your HDL cholesterol subtypes, letting you know if you have more of the HDL2 subtype, which is most beneficial. Basically, when it comes to HDL protective qualities, there are black sheep among the different possible HDL. HDL Cholesterol (good guy) is comprised of
different subtypes. HDL2 is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease even in patients whose Total and LDL cholesterol are within the desirable limits established by
the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP).

A Lipoprotein Particle Profile (LPP) test also breaks down cholesterol into fractions smaller than LDL and HDL and analyzes the particles comprising each of them, just like the VAP test. It measures the lipoprotein particles directly giving a more precise evaluation of their size. High numbers of small, dense LDL particles can ultimately cause cardiovascular disease. The LPP test has an advantage over the VAP test, because its methodology allows for more precise measurements and because it can also measure remnant lipoprotein (RLP), which is a more threatening type of cholesterol that isn’t singled out by most other cholesterol tests. Elevated remnant cholesterol may cause more artery inflammation that can lead to a heart attack, using a non-fasting test. This leads to a more accurate view than the fasting traditional test. LPP measurements track particles as you live with them.

Another advanced test is the NMR Lipoprotein Test that uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to deliver a more precise profile of LDL levels in your bloodstream. Test results will outline risk factors. The test from Liposcience was recently approved by the FDA. It only tracks LDL cholesterol particles.

In calculating possible cardiovascular risks, guidelines may differ among those organization that set up risk criteria. Among the oldest is the Framingham Heart Study that was established by the National Heart Association in 1948. The American Heart Association has a heart risk assessment calculator based on the 2010 Framingham study.

A set of statistics indicate that about 50% of people who have suffered heart attacks have “normal” cholesterol numbers according to NHLBI The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institute of Health. In many cases the cholesterol particle size mattered upon further investigation. Using cholesterol particle size as part of routine measurement may reduce cholesterol level risk or increase it. According to the NHLBI calculator, my risk potential is 10% over the next 10 year period. The calculator factors age, gender, traditional total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, whether I smoke, and my systolic blood pressure reading. A 10% risk sounds pretty good, although I’d sit more comfortably with 5% or less as a probability.

Being statin treatment intolerant, that 10% number is kind of okay. I do take other cholesterol reducing drugs and supplements, follow a strict diet, and exercise regularly. Also having Myotonic dystrophy (a degenerative muscle disease) may mean more frequent cardiograms and cardiac muscle tests to keep my risk factor as low as possible.

According to a large 1999 life risk study of developing heart disease experiment in the United Kingdom, the findings were alarming. The 7733 patients were followed up for a total of 109,948 person-years. Overall, 1157 participants developed coronary heart disease. 1312 died from non-coronary heart disease causes. Lifetime risk of coronary heart disease at age 40 years was 48.6% (95% CI 45.8-51.3) for men and 31.7% (29.2-34.2) for women. At age 70 years, lifetime risk was 34.9% (31.2-38.7) for men and 24.2% (21.4-27.0) for women. After researchers excluded isolated angina pectoris as an initial event, the lifetime risk of coronary artery disease events at age 40 years was 42.4% for men and 24.9% for women.

Hypertension and high triglycerides factor greatly in the mortality rates of heart disease risks.

The lifetime risk of developing or dying From Cancer is 43% for males and 38% for females, all inclusive cancers according to the American Cancer Society. The National Safety Council releases a book on risk statistics in virtually every aspect of life.

Fortunately, we don’t live trying to assess our risks of dying inside or outside our home. Yet nearly everyone knows or has known someone living with the threat of heart disease or cancer. It’s very disconcerting. Cardiovascular risks, one or more, are like driving a car. You need to know more about the road ahead and around you. Use your mind and be proactive about risks. While there’s no guarantee against accidents, be diligent in aiming for safety.

Knowing your serum cholesterol levels, your cholesterol particle size and constituency of the subclasses help you assess and act toward reducing your risks of athesclerosis and heart disease. The media surrounds us with what steps to take. You should know them. Pursue your doctor for more thorough testing. Become proactive at being your personal wellness advocate. Live better, hearty, and prosper towards longer, healthier living.

Happy Heart Thanksgiving and Inflammation Diet

Although there is some dispute whether the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in November or December, historians believe that Thanksgiving celebrates their first meal in the New Land, shared with the Indians. The Indians had taught the pilgrims how to catch fish, hunt animals, and find shelter. Yet Thanksgiving also has British roots as far back as 1536, when it was a day of thanks celebrated after the English Reformation from the Catholic Church. In the USA, Thanksgiving has become a day of feasting – gorging huge amounts of Turkey and all the trimmings. Heart attacks and heart related diseases rise about 5% on Thanksgiving compared to average days in the year. There can be many reasons but one may be that the tradition is tied to Thanksgiving and Inflammation.

The reason for Thanksgiving peak in heart attacks is associated with the lack of indulgence related to feasting at the meal. While you may have cardiovascular issues waiting to happen, it’s more likely that the meal itself may be part of the cause.

Your body doesn’t know it is Thanksgiving and is not expecting huge portions of Turkey, meat, gravy, cranberry sauce, potatoes, and other rich trimmings. The cells, fluids, tissues, organs, and muscles of your body work each second to maintain balance in your body. This is called homeostasis.

Homeostasis is a state of balance inside the body, where the body systems work together to keep it functioning normally. The endocrine system keeps this internal balancing act going by releasing chemicals called hormones. The release or reduction of the hormones is controlled by the body’s natural negative feedback mechanisms that are responding to your eating and other (lack of) activity. The language that sets off the thermostat of homeostasis is inflammation. Inflammation is the first response of the immune system to irritation and your feast may be what’s causing the Thanksgiving and Inflammation alert.

Your body reacts in a stress-related fight or flight system. Your heart speeds up, neurotransmitters are released to muscles and your brain as alerts. Failure to acknowledge these alerts may result in heart attacks, strokes, and digestive disorders.

Inflammation studies have been studied at various Universities that demonstrate how certain foods negatively affect the body’s immune system. Small studies have shown that dementia or Alzheimer symptoms may be reduced by keeping inflammation under control. The Cleveland Clinic supports research in anti-inflammatory foods and new anti-inflammatory diets are emerging.

Blood test analysis should show C-RP and this is an inflammation indicator. It stands for C-Reactive Protein. It is rarely included in average blood testing. If you have a score of less than 3, it represents that body inflammation is very low but there are those who have normal lipid (cholesterol and plaque) indicators that have extremely high C-RP scores. One study showed that Omega-3 consumption (found in fish and flaxseed oils) may reduce C-RP levels in a study of 1395 men aged 42-60. Markedly increased levels of C-RP are observed, for example, after trauma, heart attack, with autoimmune disorders, and with serious bacterial infections but few people have before and after comparisons to make an association of its role.

A high C-RP result means you have inflammation in the body. This may be due to a variety of different conditions, including (inconclusive):
Cancer
Connective tissue disease
Heart attack
Infection
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Lupus
Pneumonia
Rheumatoid arthritis
Tuberculosis

and C-RP results are factored into the blood analyses of all those who may have a possible diagnosis.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, a noted naturalist physician, indicates:

“an anti-inflammatory diet that includes two to three servings of fish such as salmon or sardines per week. If you don’t eat fish, he suggests taking fish oil supplements. He also recommends taking anti-inflammatory herbs including ginger and turmeric and following your doctor’s recommendations for heart health – quit smoking, watch your diet (particularly avoid foods that predominantly consist of flour and/or sugar), and get regular exercise.

A recent study at Johns Hopkins showed that as fitness levels decline, CRP levels go up. The researchers weren’t sure if poor fitness leads to an increase in CRP or vice versa, but exercise is an important part of maintaining heart health in any case.”

High C-RP levels aren’t merely associated with organic conditions. Studies cite evidence that chronic anxiety, stress and social rejection may lead to high inflammation C-RP scores. In a rather unique study, it was shown that inflammation may aid in muscle healing but that may be as a result of the body’s auto-immune response for homeostasis.

Returning to Thanksgiving and Inflammation, that recurrent heartburn after the big meal may only be heartburn or an early heart symptom. Foods may cause inflammation. How do you find the Inflammation Factors of your meal? The Inflammation Free Diet Plan book is available at Amazon and offers comprehensive listings.

According to Inflammation Factor, Inflammation scores are as follows:

200 or higher Strongly anti-inflammatory
101 to 200 Moderately anti-inflammatory
0 to 100 Mildly anti-inflammatory
-1 to -100 Mildly inflammatory
-101 to 200 Moderately inflammatory
-201 or lower Strongly inflammatory

and so, according to Inflammation Factor:

Turkey, breast, roasted 3 ounces -104 (Generally you might have 3 times that)
Pork sausage, cooked 3 ounces -86
Stuffing, bread, from mix 1 ounce -6
Ham, spiral cut, roasted 3 ounces -39
Cranberry sauce 1/2 cup -177
Potatoes, mashed 1/2 cup -69
Pie, pumpkin, commercial 1 ounce -26
Cake, fruit 1 ounce -69
Pie, apple 1 ounce -36
Chocolate, dark 1 ounce -76
Bread sticks, plain 1 ounce -79
Coffee, brewed 8 ounces 1
Cola 8 ounces -28

Basically, this possible Thanksgiving dinner has many inflammatory foods. Move the servings into real proportions and your batting well over 1000 in the inflammatory scale. Your body’s auto-immune system is working on high and your heart and arteries are beating rapidly. Thanksgiving and Inflammation might bring you to the edge of having a heart attack or a stroke.

Each year heart attacks kill more than 150,000 Americans, nearly half of them women. Many aren’t fatal if you seek a cardiologic check-up and follow a diet and exercise program. Exercise cuts inflammation that simultaneously reduces your risk of heart disease as well as many types of cancer. Walk 30 min recreationally every day at minimum-with more vigorous/longer exercise as advised by your doctor.

Extra belly fat is an inflammation factory-actually churning out inflammatory chemicals that wreak havoc elsewhere.

A list of anti inflammatory foods include:

a. Berries: especially dark reds and blues like strawberries and blueberries

b. Vegetables-darker the color the better, including dark green kale and spinach

c. Whole grains-including oatmeal, quinoa, barley and farro. Avoid sugary or starchy foods that jack up your sugar level.

d. Healthy oils-found in nuts and fish. Saturated fat found in full fat dairy and meat fuel the inflammatory fire.

There are many factors associated with the risk of developing life threatening diseases and conditions. Some are genetic and some are dietary. The idea is to consider what you can change and whether you’re willing to effect those changes that you can control in a path towards wellness. It’s a lifestyle choice that is up to you. The sacrifices may help reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. After a while, they won’t seem like sacrifices. There are no guarantees, however. That’s where the Pleasure Principle remains dominant.

So this Thanksgiving, as in previous Thanksgivings, I ask the host of the dinner to prepare a fish dish for me. After all, the Indians that met the Pilgrims showed them how they caught fish. Fish, like Salmon, is rich in Omega 3 fatty acid and the Inflammation Factor (Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, baked 3 ounces 843) is great. Does it have cholesterol? Yes. But it’s a healthier way to celebrate Thanksgiving. You really don’t need Thanksgiving and Inflammation.