• Your levels of HDL "good" cholesterol vs. LDL "bad" cholesterol• Your triglyceride levels• Your ratio of triglycerides to HDL• Your ratio of total cholesterol to HDLMany are also aware that there are different sizes of cholesterol particles. There are small and large particles of LDL, HDL, andtriglycerides. The most dangerous are the small, dense particles that act like BB pellets, easily penetrating your arteries. Large,fluffy cholesterol particles are practically harmless--even if your total cholesterol is high. They function like beach balls andbounce off the arteries, causing no harm.Another concern is whether or not your cholesterol is rancid. If so, the risk of arterial plaque is real.Rancid or oxidized cholesterol results fromoxidative stressand free radicals, which trigger a vicious cycle ofinflammationand fator plaque deposition under the artery walls. That is the real danger: When small dense LDL particles are oxidized they becomedangerous and start the build up of plaque or cholesterol deposits in your arteries.Now that we've explored when and how cholesterol becomes more problematic, let's take a look at other factors that play a moresignificant role in cardiovascular disease.
Prime Contributors to Cardiovascular Disease
First of all, cardiovascular illness results when key bodily functions go awry, causinginflammation, (vii) imbalances in blood sugar
and insulin andoxidative stress.To control these key biological functions and keep them in balance, you need to look at your overall health as well as yourgenetic predispositions, as these underlie the types of diseases you're most likely to develop. It is the interaction of your genes,lifestyle, and environment that ultimately determines your risks -- and the outcome of your life.This is the science ofnutrigenomics, or how food acts as information to stall or totally prevent some predisposed disease risksby turning on the right gene messages with our diet and lifestyle choices. That means some of the factors that unbalance bodilyhealth are under your control, or could be.These includediet,nutritional status, stress levels, and activity levels. Key tests can reveal problems with a person'sblood sugar
and insulin,inflammation level, level offolic acid, clotting factors,hormones, and other bodily systems that affect your risk of
cardiovascular disease.Particularly important are the causes ifinflammation, which are many, and need to be assessed. Inflammation can arise frompoor diet(too much sugar and trans and saturated fats), a sedentary lifestyle,stress,autoimmune disease,food allergies, hidden
infections such as gum disease, and eventoxins such as mercury. All of these causal factors need to be considered anytimethere is inflammation.Combined together, all of these factors determine your risk of heart disease. And I recommend that people undergo acomprehensive medical evaluation to see what their risk really is.
Zeroing in on Key Factors for Heart Disease
There's no doubt about it,inflammationis key contributor to heart disease. A major study done at Harvard found that people withhigh levels of a marker calledC-reactive protein(CRP) had higher risks of heart disease than people with high cholesterol. Normalcholesterol levels were NOT protective to those with high CRP. The risks were greatest for those with high levels of both CRP andcholesterol.Another predisposing factor to heart disease isinsulin resistanceormetabolic syndrome, which leads to an imbalance in the
blood sugar and high levels of insulin. This may affect as many as half of Americans over age 65. Many younger people also havethis condition, which is sometimes calledpre-diabetes.Although modern medicine sometimes loses sight of the interconnectedness of all our bodily systems, blood sugar imbalanceslike these impact your cholesterol levels too. If you have any of these conditions, they will cause your good cholesterol to godown, while your triglycerides rise, which further increasesinflammationandoxidative stress. All of these fluctuations contribute
to blood thickening, clotting, and other malfunctions -- leading to cardiovascular disease.What's more, elevated levels of a substance calledhomocysteine(which is related to your body's levels of folic acid andvitamins
B6 and B12) appears to correlate to cardiovascular illness. Although this is still somewhat controversial, I often see this inter-relationship in my practice. While genes may play a part, tests done as part of a comprehensive evaluation of cardiac risk caneasily ascertain this factor. Where problematic levels occur, they can be easily addressed by adequatefolic acidintake, alongwithvitamins B6 and B12.
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