By Dr. Chris Maffit -?Delta Spinal Care Holistic Health and Wellness Center –
Do you know the REAL cause of heart disease? Well, the bottom line and honest truth is that we don?t either! This may leave some of you shaking your heads, and, to be honest, I expected that. The reality is that the generally accepted theory is just that, a theory, a hypothesis, and it is not without flaws. It?s my hope that by reading this article you may better understand why there are questions surrounding the real cause of heart disease. The current generally accepted theory known as the Lipid Theory; that high cholesterol, and especially the ?bad? LDL cholesterol, causes heart disease simply does not work.
Let me first state that I am NOT a research scientist. I am a clinician, a doctor in the trenches, taking care of people and educating them about their bodies. The more a person understands about their body, the better we can partner to restore their health. That said, this article has been written based on a review of current peer-reviewed medical literature. I hope to simplify and summarize complicated medical research in a way that we can all understand.
A few months ago I wrote an article entitled ?The Truth about Statins, High Cholesterol and Heart Disease? and received considerable feedback. The article discussed many important functions cholesterol has such as the synthesis of ALL of our steroid hormones like progesterone, estrogen and testosterone. Also discussed were the devastating consequences of long term statin use. It has been well documented that myalgias, or muscle pains, are the most common side effect. Fatigue, liver and kidney dysfunction, sexual dysfunction and cognitive deficits have also been linked to statins. I shared the necessity to supplement with the reduced form of CoQ10, Ubiquinol, to offset fatigue and gave lifestyle modification tips to reduce your risk of heart disease. (Please visit www.stlhealthandwellness.com to review the article in its entirety.)
The truth is that people with high cholesterol may actually live the longest! This statement seems so incredible that it takes time to clear one?s brainwashed mind to fully understand its importance, yet it emerges clearly from many scientific papers. Harlan Krumholz, MD., of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale reported in 1994 that old people with low cholesterol died twice as often from a heart attack as did those with high cholesterol. There are now a large number of findings that contradict this lipid hypothesis; that high cholesterol causes heart disease. A review of the Medline database revealed that eleven studies demonstrated high cholesterol was not a risk factor for coronary artery disease. Eleven more showed that high cholesterol did not predict the likelihood of death. Six found that the chance of death was inversely associated with either total or LDL-cholesterol, or both. This means that it is actually better to have high cholesterol if you want to live to be very old.
No one disagrees that statins lower cholesterol. The point is that the literature indicates that lowering cholesterol with pharmaceuticals does not lower your risk of heart disease, period. Over and over again I read that after the use of various drug therapies, ?No significant reduction was seen in the primary composite outcome.? That is that there was no appreciable reduction in coronary events, cardiovascular mortality or all-cause mortality. In short, the drugs made no difference!
There are many causes for coronary heart disease, some we know for certain. There is no doubt that smoking, diabetes and mental stress provoke a heart attack. What we don?t know is the mechanism. How is it that many different causes lead to the same disease? A new hypothesis has emerged, but it too is a theory and may someday be proven incomplete. The first part was proposed more than a hundred years ago and says, simply stated, that atherosclerosis is the result of an infection in the arterial wall. Most researchers agree that atherosclerosis starts as inflammation in the arteries and is, in some way, associated with infectious diseases. Abnormally high levels of antibodies against many microorganisms are found in the blood of those with cardiovascular disease. Researchers also generally agree that the starting point of an occluding thrombus (blockage) is a soft bubble lying just beneath the inner surface of the arterial wall, called a vulnerable plaque. These bubbles rupture and the blockage is formed. The question is what is causing the inflammation and how are these plaques (bubbles) formed?
Many factors irritate the arterial walls; toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke, too few vitamins, copper in our food, too much iron and the amino acid homocysteine in our blood. When the arteries become irritated, they are thought to allow LDL-cholesterol to pass through the walls and create inflammation leading infection, ultimately causing atherosclerosis. This part of the Lipid Theory is a hypothesis and in contradiction with much of what is current in medical science. If this were true, why then do people with low cholesterol become just as atherosclerotic as people with high cholesterol and why do people with high cholesterol live longer? Why does the research show that cholesterol is not a risk factor for women? Clearly there is more to this story.
This new theory is based on the fact, first discovered 60 years ago, that when the body is attacked by microbes, the liver responds by increasing the production of lipoproteins, including LDL?s, to bind to and inactivate bacteria, viruses and their toxic products. In the laboratory, this lipoprotein immune system has demonstrated the ability to inactivate more than 90% of the most toxic bacterial products! The problem starts when these lipoproteins and toxins begin to lump together into microscopic clumps that circulate in the blood. These clumps are thought to block the mesh-like blood supply to the arteries themselves, starving the arteries of oxygen and leading to tissue death. This releases the microbes into the area of the dead tissue and leads to infection. In a healthy immune system, the infection is healed and a fibrous plaque is formed. If the immune system is compromised, a vulnerable plaque (pustule/ boil) is formed and a thrombus occurs when the blister ruptures, creating a blockage. The research indicates that all sorts of infectious diseases may be responsible.
This question of which comes first, the LDL infiltrating the tissue causing an infection or cell death due to hypoxia (too little oxygen) leading to infection, will be up to the researchers to determine. However, the current research doesn?t lie. The science is simply not there to support the theory that LDL-cholesterol causes heart disease. Diabetes and smoking are both risk factors for all kinds of cardiovascular diseases and cause susceptibility to infections. A high stress lifestyle causes elevated cortisol levels that promote infection. Too much homocysteine, associated with lack of B vitamins, smoking, high blood pressure, mental stress and kidney disease can cause LDL?s to become sticky and are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Preliminary research indicates that 1000IU of Vitamin D daily, especially in the winter, may support your immune system and reduce your risk of infection. Additionally, some studies have shown that adding up to 1gm of vitamin C daily will also support the immune system in fighting infection. Preventing infection from microorganisms and strengthening our immune systems remain our best options.
Delta Spinal Care
Holistic Health and Wellness Center