You may remember that last month, I wrote about breast cancer awareness and the importance of raising awareness about this dreaded disease. Today I want to share another message of urgent importance to women: As bad as breast cancer may be, you are far more likely to die of heart disease.
Women are often surprised to learn that their chance of dying from heart disease is six times greater than their chance of dying from breast cancer. But statistics show that while four percent of women will die of breast cancer, more than 30 percent will die of heart disease. So you need to pay attention to your heart risk factors, especially as you pass menopause and lose the natural protection against heart attack and stroke provided by estrogen.
Fortunately, you can reduce your chance of heart attack and stroke by eating a healthy PAMM diet, exercising regularly, and taking nutritional supplements that support heart health (fish oil and CoQ10 are two of my favorites). You should also do the following:
• Get regular blood tests to monitor your heart risk factors. Cholesterol fractionation tests are essential. Known as the VAP and LPP, these tests measure the various components of cholesterol and more accurately assess your risk of heart disease than standard blood lipid tests. The tests also measure Lp(a), a highly inflammatory form of LDL cholesterol that causes blood clots. Lp(a) rises in menopausal women so it’s important to watch your level. In addition, ask your doctor to check your levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), homocysteine, and fibrinogen. These biochemicals help predict cardiovascular disease. CRP is a marker of chronic inflammation, and homocysteine is a toxic amino acid involved in the early stages of arterial damage. Fibrinogen is a protein with inflammatory and clot-forming properties. It rises during menopause, particularly among smokers.
• Refuse to take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs unless you have evidence of inflammation, advanced cardiovascular disease, or have had a prior cardiac event or procedure. Many doctors prescribe statins at the first sign of high cholesterol, but I believe statins should be prescribed only to people with advanced arterial disease. Not only do the drugs inhibit your body’s production of CoQ10, but depletion of CoQ10 levels can lead to low energy and muscle weakness. Moreover, statins may increase Lp(a), one of the most dangerous heart risk factors.
• Avoid hormone replacement therapy that uses synthetic hormones. Conventional HRT drugs (Premarin, Provera, Progestin) have been documented as dangerous to the cardiovascular system. I recommend biodentical hormones instead. These natural plant-based substitutes that have chemical structures identical to those in the body, and they achieve excellent results without serious side effects.
• Lower your stress level. Happiness is a healer. Stress is a killer. Be happy—and stay healthy!
For more information on cholesterol guidlines, reducing hypertension, and overall heart health, visit www.drsinatra,com.