Beyond Cholesterol. What Are The Other Risk Factors Besides Cholesterol That Causes Heart Disease?
Foods that amino acid Arginine, from which NO is produced, should be part of your regular diet, such as beans, soy, almonds, oats, cold water fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel.
Last month we discussed about what exactly is cholesterol and what it does for our body. This issue we will look at a several of the other factors other than cholesterol that increases your risk for heart disease.
When you bring your car for servicing, will you be getting just the oil checked? Likewise, it is the same if you are only using cholesterol as the gauge to your health of your arteries.
Cholesterol levels are indeed a strong indication of your risk to heart disease, but there are also many people who suffered heart disease and have normal cholesterol levels. So what else is involved?
Nitric Oxide (NO) is responsible for men’s erections and it also plays a vital role in your arteries health and thus your heart health.
NO is produced in the blood vessels’ lining (endothelium), helps to increase the blood flow and prevents fatty deposits from sticking to the blood vessel walls and prevents the arteries from narrowing.
If your artery walls do not make enough NO, they become like Velcro, attracting “gunk” like flies to flypaper.
Foods that contain amino acid Arginine, from which NO is produced, should be part of your regular diet. These foods include beans, soy, almonds, oats, cold water fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel.
We can restore endothelial health and lining of the vessel through exercise and nutrition. The increased blood flow resulting from exercise encourages the vessels to make more NO as well as the enzyme that converts arginine to NO.
Do you remember the last time you scrapped your knee? The wound was red and warm, and sometimes oozes with pus. That is due to the flow of blood to the injured area as the white blood cells rush to the rescue. Ironically, this process can also be damaging and this is called inflammation.
How is that related to the blood vessels? If the lining of the artery is damaged (e.g. when LDL lands itself on the artery wall), white blood cells will flock to the site and lead to inflammation, which in turn makes it stiffer and more prone to plaque build up. Other factors that damage artery wall and trigger inflammation include smoking and high blood pressure.
Testing your C-reactive protein (CRP)- which is produced in the liver whenever inflammation occurs, can determine if you are at risk, and the good news is CRP levels seem to indicate the possibility of heart attack 6-8 years ahead, so it is not too late to modify your lifestyle.
Homocysteine is formed when the body breaks down dietary protein (especially from animal sources). The B vitamins breaks down homocysteine for your cells to use it for energy. If the breakdown process does not take place successfully (e.g. you do not have a sufficient intake of B vitamins), homocysteine levels build up to an unhealthy level. It can then damage endothelial cells, preventing the production of NO.
Thankfully, this is easiest to help resolve, simply by ensuring you get sufficient B vitamins.
The older you are, the more you smoke, the less you exercise, all seem to be tied to homocysteine levels.
Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes
During the groundbreaking Framingham Heart Study, researchers noticed a certain group of people with low LDL who nonetheless had a high risk of heart disease. This is a new cluster of heart disease factors: high insulin and glucose levels, high triglyceride level, low HDL, small and dense LDL, high blood pressure and overweight, is what we term now as “Syndrome X”, otherwise, the Metabolic Syndrome.
5-10% of those with metabolic syndrome will develop Diabetes Type II. Diabetes can contribute to the imbalance between HDL and LDL, and glucose binds to proteins on the surface of endothelial cells, damaging the artery wall.
A sound eating strategy can help combat insulin resistance and shed unwanted poundage.
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of the arteries. The more forceful it is the more your arteries will be damaged.
Blood pressure fluctuates through the day, so you cannot be too quick to confirm a diagnosis until you get tested.
Typically there are no symptoms, thus regular blood pressure checks are just as important as regular teeth cleaning. Exercise, weight loss, stress relieve and not smoking will significantly help your blood pressure levels.
Uric Acid is a by-product of the breakdown of purines, (components in many foods we eat) and over time, elevated uric acid levels lead to the formation of needle-like crystals in joints. These crystals trigger gout attacks. Researchers suspect a high level of uric acid may also be a sign of heart disease, though the link is unclear. However, they do know that insulin resistance often results in high levels of uric acid, and both are connected with being overweight.
Fitness Factory will help you make the kind of lifestyle changes necessary to reach a healthier weight for your body type. The Fitness Factory approach is designed to promote the overall health of your heart and not just to lower your cholesterol. If you need to lose excess weight, you will drop pounds with our program as you will be eating more healthily and exercising more, and we will help you design your own eating strategy to achieve your goals.
Reference: Cut Your Cholesterol, David L.Katz, M.D. and Debra L. Gordon