New 2013 cholesterol guidelines

Sometimes it may be the binge eating you had before your medical exam. Other times it may be the dietary recommendations that eating chicken and fish are healthier than red meat. Any animal-source food has cholesterol. According to the Center of Disease Control, 71 million Americans or 1 in 3 have high LDL or bad cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol is associated with lining arteries with plaque that may lead to organ damage, particularly leading to heart attacks and strokes. For some people, it is dietary, and is easily controlled. For others, these may be familial, chronic conditions. There’s no wonder why cholesterol management is a big topic and essential indicator examined on general blood tests. When the American Heart Association announces new guidelines for cholesterol management, doctors listen. The new report promotes high statin dosage to control high LDL levels.

A group of researchers from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association put their weight on new cholesterol management guidelines. Their emphasis is to increase statin treatments to more people who might be at risk of having a heart attack. The origin of these reports were designed to effectively care for those who already had some level of a cardiovascular episode.

As with all cases, the panel took a traditional approach. As with all patients, they emphasized lifestyle guidelines (i.e., adhering to a heart healthy diet, regular exercise
habits, avoidance of tobacco products, and maintenance of a healthy weight). They cited that use of one of the 4 statin groups would help those who can’t manage to keep their LDL at a normal range. They did not discuss HDL/LDL ratios.

Establishing a target range under real circumstances still remains vague but they deemed that an LDL-C of 190 is considered threatening.

The new guideline recommends moderate- or high-intensity statin therapy for these four groups:

1) Patients who have cardiovascular disease;
2) Patients with an LDL, or “bad” cholesterol level of 190 mg/dL or higher;
3) Patients with Type 2 diabetes who are between 40 and 75 years of age
4)Patients with an estimated 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease of 7.5 percent or higher who are between 40 and 75 years of age (the report provides formulas for calculating 10-year risk).

Chronic use of statins may have negative effects on neuromuscular systems, particularly peripheral myopathies. While Cleveland University research cites that 72.5% of statin-intolerant patients may be treated with statins. There are those that have diseases like muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis for which statin use may be almost fatal. Recommendations of high stain dosages may be more dangerous holistically than cardiology specialists realize.

For example, many people suffer from rheumatism and fibromyalgia. These involve muscle pains, affecting over 10 million people, that have no succinct etiology to infer causality and results. There is little data to support that high-dose statins may induce more extreme pain or inflammation. While cholesterol management is vital, average cardiologists may not take these other common diseases into consideration when prescribing statin drugs.

Specialists that read these guidelines may take easier approaches at high-dosing statins to force cholesterol management to those that may not need it. The November 2013 guidelines of the American College of Cardiologists and the American Heart Association seems to sanction this. Most cardiologists adhere to the average and this report definitely targets the average. Patients are then forced to seek out cardiologists that see patients as individuals instead of group numbers. Groupings are attractive at writing presentations. Patients as clients require more specific attention.

Yet statins are touted well beyond cholesterol management with research demonstrating efficacy in treating cancer and other diseases. It’s as if all the leading drug companies that produce cholesterol are behind all the experiments. In some respects, companies like Merck and Pfizer are using cardiologists as drug pushers, especially when two major heart organizations sanction high dosages of statin medications to help lower LDL cholesterol.

I have genetic cholesterol and management requires an almost vegan diet along with exercise. Because of a form of muscular dystrophy, all statins have been proven toxic. I use Source Natural Cholesterol Complex on a daily basis, along with non-statin prescription Zetia and Lopid. Policosanol is a key ingredient in my supplement mix and policosanol research shows that 20mg can help reduce LDL cholesterol by nearly 30%. For people that suffer from statin intolerance, statins are not the conclusive treatment.

Cholesterol is only one of many indicators that may lead to heart disease. Relying on statins to lower LDL cholesterol levels may be great for many people. For those that exhibit statin intolerance, there are other routes and physicians should understand and study these.

Sifting through this 80 page document from November, it’s a rather unimpressive work and further extends that the two leading organizations continue to fail at examining holistic approaches to cholesterol management. Cholesterol levels correlate differently with age and this report didn’t cover that well. As people rise over 70, 190 to 200 LDL is more tolerable than that of a 25 year old.

Prescribing high intensity statins as a rule instead of an exception, may actually harm some patients in those groups due to side-effects. The fervent faith in statins for cholesterol management that seems to be shared by traditional cardiologists may be taking cardiovascular care in wrong directions. There must be more exploration into alternative approaches that place responsibilities on both doctor and patient.

Finding a reasonable target that I can maintain without statins is my goal. In the overall wellness mix, I prefer to be in control. Control requires an active goal-oriented approach. That control persists between routine visits to my practitioner.

Patients, as drug consumers, will accept statins and will likely not report intolerances. While statins for lowering cholesterol may be beneficial, the overall goal is to help patients (as clients) pursue healthy lifestyles and feel well. On the patient’s side, you must be willing to take necessary drug-free steps to improve your heart and cardiovascular health. Ultimately your health is your responsibility!

As to the new stricter standards proposed by the ACC and AHA regarding cholesterol borderlines and statin medications, everything and anything is subject to change. Each year new studies and interventions lead to new perspectives of how to approach cardiovascular conditions. The ACC and AHA are traditionalists and are likely to follow Statins as a holy sword. Statins are not exclusive. Seek out other options and, if possible, find integrative health centers that offer more holistic and educational approaches to help resolve what may be a chronic condition. There are lifestyle choices that can help you manage your LDL cholesterol levels.

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.