Why “Good” HDL Cholesterol Isn’t Always Good

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Cholesterol
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

The drug companies have sold the American public a simplified version of cholesterol, that LDL cholesterol is “bad” and HDL cholesterol is “good.” They’ve propagated that message in order to sell more cholesterol medications, but that message is doing more harm than good.

Knowing your HDL cholesterol number only tells half the picture, you also need to know how much of that cholesterol is functional
 
There are many things that can render cholesterol dysfunctional, meaning it’s unable to rid your body of bad oxidized cholesterol. One of them is the presence of the protein apolipoprotein C-III (apoC-III). Harvard researchers just released new findings that show when apoC-III is found on the surface of HDL cholesterol, the incidence of heart disease rises.
 
Plus, do you remember Torcetrapib, the Pfizer drug engineered to raise HDL levels by about 50 percent when taken in combination with Lipitor? National Geographic cited it as part of the all-out effort to develop a “multibillion-dollar blockbuster” drug that can raise HDL. The only problem with Torcetrapib was that the extra HDL it created in the clinical trial participants wasn’t necessarily functional HDL, and it elevated blood pressure.
 
What’s the bottom line for you?  If you have a family history of heart disease at a young age, or have high cholesterol with confusing results, I urge you to ask your doctor to go beyond a standard lipid panel—and conduct specific testing to dissect your HDL cholesterol. 
 
Ask your physician to order the VAP test or the LPP test from Spectracell. These are advanced lipid tests that assess the presence of dysfunctional and inflammatory cholesterol particles. If the advanced tests indicate too much small particle inflammatory cholesterol in your blood, I recommend niacin and nattokinase.
 
Now it’s your turn: Has your doctor tried to talk you into taking cholesterol medications?

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