By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
October 30, 2013
- When “normal” cholesterol doesn’t prevent heart attack
- A stronger predictor of cardiovascular risk
- 3 supplements with heart-saving results
Has your doctor convinced you that “normal” cholesterol levels will stop you from having a heart attack?
If you’ve been staying on top of my recent email alerts, you know better.
Sure, it’s important to keep your cholesterol levels in balance. But it’s no longer the “gold standard” when it comes to predicting your risk of heart attack and stroke.
In the first part of this three-part series I alerted you to the truth about LDL cholesterol. And in the following issue you learned about one of the most important indicators of heart risk: Inflammation.
Inflammation is quite a serious risk when it comes to your heart health. Worse, almost all of today’s major health concerns are linked back to it. This includes diabetes, arthritis, dementia and more.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from all of these risks is to reduce inflammation in your body.
Lowering levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) is a big first step. But there’s another inflammatory factor that’s just important to your cardiovascular health.
It’s called homocysteine. And the story behind this discovery is quite amazing.
Back in the late 1960’s a promising young doctor made a daring announcement. He claimed that cholesterol – the established explanation for heart attacks – wasn’t the real culprit at all. Instead, he identified homocysteine as a key marker in the development of heart disease.
His name was Kilmer McCully, and he was kicked out of Harvard for refusing to abandon his wild theory. His thesis was simple and his research was well documented. But it took a full 25 years before anyone gave the research any credit!
Let me fill you in on a few of the facts…
Homocysteine is naturally produced by your body. And when levels are normal, it’s harmless. But when homocysteine levels get too high, immediate inflammation – and damage – to the blood vessels sets in.
You see, homocysteine irritates the arteries and makes the blood clot more easily than it should.
This, of course, increases the risk of blood vessel blockages. To make matters worse, homocysteine prevents the small arteries from dilating. So they’re more vulnerable to obstruction.
This is bad news for your heart health. And it’s not surprising that high levels of this amino acid are now recognized as a very strong predictor of cardiovascular risk and death.
In the Physician’s Health Study, researchers found men with high homocysteine levels were 3 times more likely to suffer serious heart problems.
Another study from Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland, also had disturbing news. The researchers found moderate elevations of homocysteine are associated with a more than five-fold increase in the risk for stroke.
And if all this news isn’t bad enough, the Queen’s team also found that high levels of homocysteine almost tripled the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
So, when are homocysteine levels too high?
A growing number of studies show that a homocysteine level greater than 9 μmol/L is a risk factor for heart disease independent of other known risk factors like cholesterol.
But there’s good news. Lowering your homocysteine levels is as easy as getting three crucial nutrients, and they are all three available in supplement form. Just take the following vitamins each day:
- 500 mcg. B12
- 20 mg. B6
- 800 mcg. folic acid
B12 can be found in all lean and low-fat animal products like fish and low-fat dairy products. B6 can be found in meats, nuts, and vegetables like bell peppers, spinach, baked potatoes (skin included), green peas, yams, broccoli, asparagus and turnip greens.
Lentils, beans, broccoli, asparagus, orange juice, dark leafy greens and tofu are all good sources of folate. But, it’s also important to take folic acid in supplemental form because folic acid naturally found in food is much less available to the body compared with the folic acid found in supplements.
It’s that simple!
Meir J. Stampfer, MD, et al. A prospective study of plasma homocysteine and the risk of myocardial infarction in US physicians. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1992 Aug 19; 268(7): 877-881
McIlroy SP, et al. Moderately elevated plasma homocysteine, methylenetetrahydro-folate reductase genotype, and risk for stroke, vascular dementia, and Alzheimer disease in Northern Ireland. Stroke. 2002;33:2351-2356