I have to warn everyone that this email will probably be surprising and also a teaser!
Something not many of you are likely to know is that I’ve had high cholesterol for many years. In the last two years it’s been around 300. Of course the common medical opinion is that high cholesterol (over 200) is dangerous and causes plaque to build up on your arteries, eventually causing heart attack or stroke as the blood vessels get so clogged that the heart or brain become starved for oxygen and nutrients.
Did you know that you can get a doppler ultrasound of your carotid arteries (the main arteries carrying blood to your brain and head)? I just had one done. My arteries are pristine, no plaque at all! This puts me at *much lower* risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke or heart attack than most other 61 year old men. Please note: I’m not saying that high cholesterol might not be dangerous but the danger depends on other factors often ignored by mainstream medicine, IMO.
While this news was welcome, it was really no surprise but about what I expected. Why?
More to come……..
For some reason, the link to “Part 2” just won’t work, so I cut and pasted it below.
Yesterday I wrote that, although my cholesterol has been high for a number of years, I wasn’t surprised to find that it hasn’t caused any plaque formation on my carotid arteries. This is because of a number of factors that are important to consider along with the total cholesterol number. BTW, there are some studies that suggest health benefits to high cholesterol but more on that later.
First, one of the primary factors that cause buildup of arterial plaque is inflammation. Inflammation causes irritation to the arterial wall, essentially “roughing it up”. Just like we might sand a surface we want to paint or varnish to make things adhere better, this roughening of the arterial wall makes platelets, cholesterol and other material adhere to the wall of the artery, eventually building up enough to restrict blood flow to vital organs like the heart and brain. There are lifestyle factors that have a lot to do with our levels of inflammation (more later). I feel that I’ve been doing a good job of living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
This feeling has been borne out in my blood tests for many years. Tests that indicate inflammation are C reactive protein and fasting serum insulin. My blood levels of these markers have been very good.
Another important consideration is the triglyceride/HDL ratio. We all know there is “good” cholesterol (HDL which actually cleans the arteries) and “bad” cholesterol (LDL) which is thought to stick to the arteries. It turns out that there is “bad” LDL and “neutral” LDL. The neutral LDL will not clean your arteries but won’t stick to them either. The way to tell how much of each you have is with the Triglyceride/HDL ratio. Divide your total triglyceride number by your HDL number. A ratio result of 1 is good, 2 fair. Above 3 indicates that most of the LDL is the “sticky” kind and there are definite problems. Above 3 can also be a marker for inflammation. My T/H ratio has been 1 or less since I first started tracking it.
It was very gratifying to get confirmation that my numbers meant what I thought they meant and that my lifestyle choices have paid off! Future emails will talk about what those lifestyle choices have been as well as some concerns about statin drugs, the most common class of medication used to treat high cholesterol.