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Statins and Alternatives to Lower Cholesterol

Having high cholesterol increases risk for a heart attack, but a review of 49 studies showed that the reduced risk for suffering a heart attack is the same for statins as it is for dietary changes.

DASH (High-Plant) Diet for Heart Health, Weight Loss and Diabetes Prevention/Control

Reports from Harvard School of Public Health shows that a diet rich in plants lowers high blood pressure (1,2). It's called the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.) Other studies show that similar eating patterns lower cholesterol, help to control diabetes and cause weight loss in people who are overweight.

What Do Blood Cholesterol Levels Mean?

Having a high (>100 mg/dL) bad LDL cholesterol or a low (<40) good HDL cholesterol has long been associated with increased risk for heart attacks. However, new studies show that you can form plaques and be at risk for a heart attack even if your bad LDL cholesterol is as low as 50.

Meat and Heart Disease

Many studies show that eating meat every day is associated with increased risk for heart disease, but until now we have had little data about the effects of eating meat less often than that. A new study followed 29,682 participants, average age 53.7, for 30 years and found that eating two servings per week of mammal meat or processed meat was associated with a seven percent increased risk of heart disease.

Metabolic Syndrome Predicts Heart Attacks and Diabetes

A huge study from Korea confirms that people with Metabolic Syndrome are at increased risk for heart attacks, and that when they correct some or all of the components of Metabolic Syndrome, their risk for a heart attack goes down dramatically.

Yogurt or Cheese Instead of Milk Reduces Heart Attack Risk

A recent Danish study followed 54,903 healthy men and women, 50-64 years old, for 16 years. Those who ate primarily fermented dairy products such as cheese and yogurt were significantly less likely to suffer heart attacks than those who drank milk.

My SHOW ME! Diet

If your doctor has told you that you have high blood pressure or that your cholesterol or triglycerides are too high, ask him or her for your numbers. If would like to find out whether you are one of the 80 percent of people who can control high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides with diet alone, follow my SHOW ME! Diet for just two weeks. Then have your doctor re-check your cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. You'll probably also find that you have lost several pounds.

How Low Should Your Cholesterol Be?

Having high blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol (>100 mg/dL) is associated with increased risk for heart attacks and premature death, and is the single most important predictor of forming plaques in your arteries. Many experts recommend lowering elevated LDL levels to 70 mg/dL in people who are at increased risk for heart attacks.

High Calcium Artery Score Doesn’t Always Mean High Risk for a Heart Attack

Since heart attacks are usually caused by plaques breaking off from the inner linings of arteries leading to the heart, doctors use a test called Coronary Artery Calcium Score (CAC) to predict which people have the largest plaques and therefore are at high risk for suffering heart attacks that cause one out of four deaths in North America.

Heart Attack Prevention Guidelines

On November 10, 2018, heart specialists presented the latest recommendations for preventing heart attacks from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association: Treat all of their patients with recommendations for heart-attack-preventing lifestyle changes, and Treat all patients with significant heart attack risk factors with medications that lower blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol.

High Resting Heart Rate Unsafe

A resting heart rate greater than 80 beats per minute is a strong predictor for future heart attacks, diabetes and even cancer. From 1974 to 2002, 53,322 healthy people were followed at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas. Those with a resting heart rate lower than 60 beats per minute were far less likely to suffer heart attacks or to die than those with a resting heart rate greater than 80 beats per minute

NSAIDs and Heart Attack Risk

An analysis of 7,743 people suffering from osteoarthritis found that those who took NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) were at 41 percent increased risk for suffering heart attacks, heart failure and strokes, compared to arthritis patients who did not take NSAIDs.

Systolic or Diastolic Blood Pressure

You have two blood pressures: the systolic that measures blood pressure when your heart contracts, and the much lower diastolic reading that measures the pressure when your heart relaxes. When your heart contracts, it pushes a huge amount of blood forward to your arteries. Your arteries are supposed to act like balloons and expand to accept the blood and prevent your blood pressure from rising too high.

Plaques in Arteries are Reversible

Almost anyone can get rid of plaques in their arteries, even if they have already had a heart attack or already have severe narrowing in the arteries leading to your heart. However, you have to do far more than just take drugs. The formation of plaques in arteries that eventually leads to heart attacks and strokes comes from chemical processes that start in the liver. Plaques can be reversed by changes in diet, exercise, weight, environmental exposures and medications.

Heart Attack Prevention

The majority of heart attacks are caused by unhealthful lifestyles, not by genetic defects. Statins remain the major choice of preventative drug, but everyone should realize that many studies show that lifestyle changes are probably more effective than statins in preventing heart attacks.

HDL Cholesterol: a New Understanding

For many years HDL cholesterol has been called "good" because it carries plaque-forming particles from your arteries and bloodstream back to your liver where they can be removed from your body. An exciting new study shows that regular HDL cholesterol may not be very effective in doing this, but another form called Nascent HDL carries these protein-fats much more quickly to your liver to be removed from your circulation.

Stents and Bypass Surgery Not More Effective than Lifestyle Changes and Medication for Stable Heart Disease

The $100 million ISCHEMIA Trial showed that after four years, surgical treatments (stents or coronary artery bypass surgery) were not more effective than lifestyle changes and medication in preventing heart attacks deaths in patients with stable heart disease.

Reduce Inflammation and Clotting to Prevent Heart Attacks

Heart attacks and strokes cause 50 percent of the deaths in North America today, yet many people are not adopting the lifestyle changes needed to prevent the factors that cause them: inflammation and clotting. A new study from the University of Michigan shows how important inflammation is as a cause of heart attacks and strokes.

Weak Heart Muscle Associated with Weak Skeletal Muscles

As you age, you can expect to suffer from sarcopenia (loss of muscle size and strength). The smaller the muscles in the arms, legs and trunk, the smaller and weaker the upper and lower chambers of their heart. Having a smaller and weaker heart muscle puts a person closer to heart failure.

How Soluble Fiber Lowers High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (greater than 130/90 before you go to bed at night) markedly increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and premature death. Almost 50 percent of North American adults have high blood pressure, and it causes more than 80,000 U.S. deaths each year. A plant-based diet can help to prevent and treat high blood pressure because it contains lots of soluble fiber.

Statin Drugs and Exercise

The evidence is overwhelming that statin drugs do help to lower cholesterol and to reduce risk for heart attacks. However, a new study confirms that statins interfere with the ability to exercise and to compete in sports, even in patients who report no symptoms.

Swollen Feet and Ankles

Your leg muscles function like a second heart to pump fluid from your legs to your heart. When your leg muscles relax, the veins near them fill up with blood. When your leg muscles contract, they compress the veins and squeeze blood up toward your heart.

Irregular Heartbeats in Older Athletes and Exercisers

Most researchers believe that exercise helps to strengthen the heart and protect it from disease, but about twenty years ago, doctors noted that some men over 80 who competed in cross country ski races longer than 100 kilometers (60 miles) were at increased risk for an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation.

Daily Aspirin May Not Save Lives

Aspirin has been shown to help prevent a second heart attack in people who have already had a heart attack. However, aspirin also causes bleeding that can kill a person, so researchers wanted to find out if the heart-attack-preventing effects of aspirin would be offset by the complications of bleeding that aspirin can cause.

Statin Drugs and Muscle Pain

At last we have a reasonable explanation why statins can cause some people to suffer skeletal muscle pain and damage, but do not cause heart muscle damage.

Exercisers Have Fewer Heart Attacks

A study of 21,758 men, average age 51.7 years, followed for an average 10.4 years, showed that men who exercised the most have more plaques in their arteries, but do not suffer more heart attacks or deaths than those with less heart artery calcification.

Both Low and High HDL Can Predict Harm

Having high blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol predicts increased risk for heart attacks, but contrary to what we thought in the past, having high levels of "good" HDL cholesterol does not necessarily predict protection from heart disease. A recent report from the Copenhagen General Population Study shows that having either low or high levels of HDL cholesterol also predicts increased risk for infections such as gastroenteritis and bacterial pneumonia.

Deceptive Headlines about Exercise and Heart Attacks

"You Can Exercise Yourself to Death, Says New Study" was the headline in The New York Post on October 17, 2017. Headlines like that are likely to discourage people from exercising and thus to shorten their lives.

Co-Enzyme Q10 Pills Do Not Lessen Muscle Aches from Statins

Up to 20 percent of people who take statin drugs to lower cholesterol suffer from muscle aches, particularly when they try to exercise. A systematic review found eight studies that showed that Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) does not reduce statin-induced muscle pain, compared to placebo.

Vigorous Exercise Won’t Hurt a Healthy Heart

Some recent research articles seem to warn people not to exercise too long or too hard, but the overwhelming scientific and epidemiological evidence is that vigorous exercise strengthens a healthy heart and helps to prevent heart disease. Elite endurance athletes who exercise long hours each day outlive their less-active peers, as do Tour de France cyclists. However, three studies raise the possibility that extreme exercise such as running a marathon could possibly increase risk for heart problems, particularly in people who are not adequately trained for their events.