According to the American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org), in addition to the fact that one out of every two persons will die of heart disease, over 70 million Americans currently have some type of heart disease. (Note: This does not include the tens of millions of people who are in the process of developing heart disease in coming years). The cost of treating heart disease (also know as cardiovascular disease, or CVD), in both direct and indirect costs is estimated to be over $400 billion annually.
Cardiovascular disease results in reduced quality of life, and an enormous cost to both society and taxpayers is avoidable, if only individuals would begin to take more responsibility to prevent heart disease through healthy eating and better lifestyle habits and regular doctor approved exercise. In addition you should consider including the proper use of nutritional supplements such as taking a high quality daily multi-vitamin and getting enough daily Essential Fatty Acids from eating healthy wild Salmon fish (non farmed raised), at least 2 to 3 times weekly and or taking quality fish oil supplements. There are also high quality nutritional supplements and natural enzymes that can help support better circulatory health. (see below)
Study in Index
Although, inflammation occurring in the body and high Homocysteine and C-Reactive Protein levels are still your most important tests to determine if you are a likely candidate for a heart attack, (see next week’s blog on those two issues), if your cholesterol is exceedingly high, usually being listed as over 240 mg, then generally those levels should be reduced to a more moderate 200 mg or less level. Remember, cholesterol is necessary for the body and brain to function well and studies have shown that reducing your cholesterol levels too low (less than 160 mg), can actually help shorten your life.
When you visit your doctor for your annual exam, he or she will most likely do a simple blood test to check your cholesterol levels. Do you know what the numbers mean?
First, it must be generally be understood that cholesterol usually can’t be dissolved in the blood, however, certain supplements and natural digestive enzymes: (nattokinase, bromelain), fish oiI, garlic and lecithin may help. (Also, a product called Circulatory Support mentioned at the end may be of aid). Cholesterol generally has to be transported to and from the cells by carriers called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is known as “bad” cholesterol. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is known as “good” cholesterol. These two types of lipids, along with triglycerides, make up your total cholesterol count.
LDL (Bad) Cholesterol
When too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, heart attack or stroke can result.
HDL (good) Cholesterol
About one-fourth to one-third of blood cholesterol is carried by high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL cholesterol is known as “good” cholesterol, because high levels of HDL seem to protect against heart attack. Low levels of HDL (less than 40 mg/dL) also increase the risk of heart disease.
Triglyceride is a form of fat made in the body. Many people with heart disease and/or diabetes also have high triglyceride levels.
Here are some guidelines from the American Heart Association:
Your Total Blood (or Serum) Cholesterol Level
Less than 200 mg/dL: Desirable
If your LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels are also at desirable levels and you have no other risk factors for heart disease, total blood cholesterol below 200 mg/dL puts you at relatively low risk of coronary heart disease. Even with a low risk, however, it’s still smart to eat a heart-healthy diet, get regular physical activity and avoid tobacco smoke.
200-239 mg/dL: Borderline-High Risk
If your total cholesterol falls between 200 and 239 mg/dL, your doctor will evaluate your levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, and triglycerides. It’s possible to have borderline-high total cholesterol numbers with normal levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol balanced by high HDL (good) cholesterol.
240 mg/dL and over: High Risk
People who have a total cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL or more typically have twice the risk of coronary heart disease as people whose cholesterol level is desirable (200 mg/dL).
Your LDL (Bad) Cholesterol Level
The lower your LDL cholesterol, the lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, it’s a better gauge of risk than total blood cholesterol. In general, LDL levels fall into these categories:
LDL Cholesterol Levels
- Less than 100 mg/dL Optimal
- 100 to 129 mg/dL Near Optimal/ Above Optimal
- 130 to 159 mg/dL Borderline High
- 160 to 189 mg/dL High
- 190 mg/dL and above Very High
Your HDL (Good) Cholesterol Level
With HDL (good) cholesterol, higher levels are better. Low HDL cholesterol (less than 40 mg/dL for men, less than 50 mg/dL for women) puts you at higher risk for heart disease.
Smoking, being overweight, and being sedentary can all result in lower HDL cholesterol. To raise your HDL level, avoid tobacco smoke, maintain a healthy weight and get at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity more days than not.
People with high blood triglycerides usually also have lower HDL cholesterol and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
Your Triglyceride Level
Triglyceride is a form of fat. People with high triglycerides often have a high total cholesterol level, including high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Your triglyceride level will fall into one of these categories:
- Normal: less than 150 mg/dL
- Borderline-High: 150-199 mg/dL
- High: 200-499 mg/dL
- Very High: 500 mg/dL
Many people have high triglyceride levels due to being overweight/obese, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption, and/or a diet very high in carbohydrates (60 percent of more of calories).
To help lower cholesterol: eat and live a healthy lifestyle, get regular exercise and work with a knowledgeable nutritionally informed doctor. Also, consider taking a daily quality multi-vitamin and fish oil supplement.