There was a great summary article in the recent Townsend Letter (a copy is in my reception room for patients to read) on the often neglected heart disease risk markers and interventions that proactive functional medicine doctors use to enhance their patients lives.
Most conventional medical doctors focus on cholesterol management, statin drugs, and misguided dietary guidelines. Cholesterol is only one piece of the heart disease puzzle. Other possible even more important risk factors should be monitored and more effective protocols used to support your heart.
There is a growing amount of research that shows inflammation is the real culprit for all heart disease concerns. Two more important markers to look at and control are your C-reactive proteins (CRP) and fibrinogen levels. Two forms of vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol or gamma-tocopherol, are effective at lowering CRP levels. People who took these vitamin Es along with Vitamin C, carotenoids, selenium, and zinc had 22% lower high-sensitivity CRP levels compared to people who did not use supplements.
Fibrinogen levels are another indication of inflammation and plays an important role in blood clotting. The two most effective natural agents to lower fibrinogen levels are nattokinase and lumbrokinase. Nattokinase found in fermented soy extract lowered fibrinogen levels and reduced blood pressure in research studies. Lumbrokinase reduces fibrinogen levels and has clot-destroying activity. Niacin is another natural substance that can lower fibrinogen levels and reduce CRP levels.
The health of your mitochondria may play an important role in heart disease. Damage to these powerhouses of the cell increase inflammation and may be directly linked to heart disease. One of the most well-known mitochondria-supporting supplements is co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Alpha-lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine are two other agents known to enhance mitochondria function. Other supplements and dietary components are green tea, red wine, and red grape seed extract.
Last month we described the benefits of raising your nitric oxide levels with Neo40Professional supplements that we have at the office. These lower your risk of hypertension, atherosclerosis, stroke, heart failure and lower your levels of free radical (ROS) that destroy your blood vessels.
A good nights sleep equals a healthy heart. Sleep apnea (that we have mentioned in a prior blog) and daytime hypertension may be associated with pulmonary hypertension, stroke, coronary artery disease, and cardiac arrhythmias. Proper sleep in a dark room allows the body to secrete healthy amounts of melatonin, a hormone that acts like an antioxidant. Melatonin may have beneficial effect on endothelial oxidative stress even in patients with severe and advanced atherosclerosis.
A genetic mutation that causes that lack of conversion of folic acid into L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF) is found in people with high homocysteine levels, which are linked to heart disease. Supplements with vitamin B12, folate and L-5-MTHF are important for these individual to keep a health heart.
LDL cholesterol is not the only lipid factor to be linked to heart disease and strokes. Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) is an enzyme that serves as a marker for blood vessel inflammation and rupture-prone plaques. A Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts was found to increase the LDL particle size and lower a person’s risk of heart disease.
Finally, it’s also important to monitor levels of lipoprotein(a) and apolipoprotein B (ApoB) components of lipids involved in heart disease. Niacin is one supplement that lowers lipoprotein(a) and omega-3 fatty acids have lowered ApoB.
There are many other heart-supporting supplements being studied such as: berberine, Vitamin C, proline, lysine, vitamin D and others. Talk with your alternative medical doctor or cardiologist about your heart’s health and how to help it yourself at home. The most effective regimens for supporting heart health addresses all of these factors.
“Beyond Cholesterol” by Chris D. Meletis, ND and Kimberly Wilkes, Townsend Letter, May, 2017, pp. 42-46.