While there’s a lot of talk these days about cholesterol guidelines, I contend that good cholesterol levels don’t necessarily lead to good cardiovascular health.
While maintaining good cholesterol levels is important, I believe the following heart risk factors that ignite and feed the body’s inflammatory response are more important. I call them the “dirty dozen:”
- Excessive insulin. The pancreas secretes insulin, which moves blood glucose into cells. When insulin levels are chronically high, a chain reaction of biochemical developments can lead to arterial inflammation.
- Toxic blood. This describes blood containing elements that either contribute to, or indicate, inflammation or plaque buildup. These include:
- C-reactive protein (CRP),
- fibrinogen, and
- excess ferritin (iron).
- Emotional stress. Stress hormones promote arterial constriction, increased heart rate, cholesterol oxidation, and blood clotting. Acute stress, such as anger, can also make it difficult to control high blood pressure and can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Oxidative stress. Unchecked free-radical activity accelerates age-related degenerative diseases. Free radicals are generated by smoking, high sugar intake, excessive physical or emotional stress, heavy metal toxins, radiation, trans fats, and some drugs.
- Poor bioenergetics. Bioenergetics refers to the ability of cells to generate and use energy, and it often falters in patients who have heart disease. That’s why I always recommend heart patients supplement with my “Awesome Foursome” of CoQ10, magnesium, L-carnitine, and D-ribose.
- Micro-organisms. Bacterial infections spread germs and generate inflammation in the body. A common source of such bacteria is gum disease. Nanobacteria (1/1,000 the size of regular bacteria) is a particularly strong heart risk factor.
- Toxic metals. Mercury and lead are the most infamous toxic metals that can contribute to inflammation by poisoning enzyme systems, elevating blood pressure levels, and damaging arterial walls.
- Hormones. A woman’s own estrogen has cardioprotective benefits. As we age, and our hormone levels decline, it makes sense that our risk of atherosclerosis and the need for us to take steps to prevent blood clots rises. Moreover, synthetic hormone replacement therapy can put women at higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Trans fatty acids. The unnatural trans fatty acids used in processed foods ignite inflammation, raise Lp(a), promote cholesterol oxidation, and lower HDL.
- High blood pressure levels. High blood pressure levels damage arterial walls, leading to arterial damage and atherosclerosis. It can also enlarge the heart, creating an extra oxygen demand.
- Radiation. X-rays and other medical procedures that use radiation have the potential to damage the sensitive lining of arterial walls.
- Genetics. Research is beginning to reveal specific information about one’s predisposition to cardiovascular problems. Ask your cardiologist about available tests if you have concerns.
But the good news is that there are things you can do to protect yourself from these serious heart risk factors. As any medical doctor or holistic health practitioner will tell you, there are a variety of options at your disposal, many of which are discussed here in this blog, as well as my monthly newsletter, Heart, Health, & Nutrition.
For more information about heart risk factors, visit www.drsinatra.com.