Don't Let "Good" Cholesterol Numbers Fool You into Poor Heart Health
It seems that almost every day I read a new article about how to “aggressively” treat people who are considered high-risk for heart attack. These bold new programs profess to attack heart disease from every angle or teach you how to start your own “Manhattan Project” to nuke heart disease.
Invariably, these “shock and awe” programs are simply about intensifying the use of conventional technology and are almost totally devoid of anything on that resembles new or cutting edge science. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Yes, you may encounter the occasional program that boasts of adding a new wrinkle like testing for C-Reactive Protein or LP-PLA2 but these programs are still largely based on traditional risk factors and have no way of monitoring the success of any treatment. A cynic like me might also suggest that the only reason these novel tests are included is because some drug company just developed a new product to treat it.
The best way I can illustrate how these traditional programs often miss high-risk people is to present a real-life example: ME Here are my most recent test results including one of the so-called “new” risk factors that you may have heard about.
Total Cholesterol: 113 mg/dL
LDL Cholesterol: 58 mg/dL
HDL Cholesterol: 50 mg/dL
Triglycerides: 27 mg/dL
Blood Pressure: 102/68 mmHg
C-Reactive Protein: 1.12 mg/L (anything below 3.0 is normal)
My conventional regimen of diet, supplements, and drugs has pretty well “nuked” my standard lipid panel, blood pressure, and C-Reactive Protein as well. By conventional standards such as the world-renowned Framingham Risk Assessment (you can take the test by clicking the link) these values would be considered world-class test results that would place me in the lowest of risk categories. In fact, I scored a “0” on the Framingham test placing me at a mere 2% risk for heart disease in the next 10 years. Most doctors would smile, shake my hand, and tell me to go home and “keep doing what you are doing.” They would also be dead wrong - something I am trying my hardest not to be! Here is the rest of my story
Calcium Score: 309 (EBT Heart Scan)
Annual increase: 19.58 %
Lipoprotein(a): 231 nmol/L (anything above 70 is considered high)
I have a relatively high calcium score for a man my age (53) and it is increasing at the rate of almost 20% per year. Coronary Calcium Scoring has recently been determined to be perhaps the most significant predictor of cardiac events. Mine is high and growing. Additionally, Lipoprotein(a) has long been identified as a powerful independent risk for early heart disease. Could it be that this well-known risk factor fails to get much publicity and is missed by most doctors because no one has a patentable drug to treat it?
I clearly need to work harder. But, I am one of those guys that would be “missed” by these new programs that are nothing more than old medicine perhaps repackaged with a new blood test. I’d say the world is ready for a new “Manhattan Project” mentality. The only bombs going off right now are inside the chests of people like me who don’t follow Paul Harvey’s advice and get “the rest of the story!”
Chris Kliesmet, also known as HeartHawk, is a heart health activist and former patient expert writer for HealthCentral. As a heart disease sufferer with many family members lost to the disease, Chris specialized in topics within heart health, including medication, prevention, and testing. He has written for other community sites such as HeartConnect.com, and wrote for his own blog, HEARTHAWK: Your Heart Health Eye in the Sky. (Photo: University of Wisconsin)