Doctors turning against the cholesterol hypothesis

Blood pressure and cholesterol levels are not the most accurate way of assessing the risk of heart attack and stroke, doctors believe.

Instead, measuring calcium build-up in the arteries [emphasis added] gives a better indicator of the likelihood of heart problems, they say.

In comparison, the traditional ways of assessing who should be prescribed preventative drugs such as statins are inaccurate.

…People with little or no calcium deposits in the arteries detected on CT scans are unlikely to suffer a heart attack or stroke, a study found. But doctors may have prescribed statins based on other factors. The study suggests up to a third of patients were taking them unnecessarily.

Calcium build-up in the arteries marks the calcification of plaque, which results in hardening that can lead to heart attacks.

The latest study, published in the European Heart journal, adds to mounting evidence about the value of calcium scans in predicting heart attack risk.

The technology is little used in the NHS, where there is limited availability of expensive scans, but widely used in private clinics.

Instead patients mostly have their risk calculated on family history, medical factors such as cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and lifestyle habits.

So, how to keep your arteries from clogging up like the heating element in your washing machine when a descaler isn’t being used? You guessed it, read my book.

[Source: Daily Mail]

Merry Xmas & Happy New Year!

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Statins inappropriate in kidney disease

“There is very little benefit to statin drugs for patients in the early stages of kidney disease, and no benefit or possible toxicity for patients in later stages,” said Ali Olyaei, a professor of pharmacotherapy in the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University, and lead author on the new report.

…The impetus to use statin drugs – some of the most widely prescribed medications in the world to lower cholesterol – is obvious in end-stage kidney disease, because those patients have a mortality rate from coronary heart disease 15 times that of the general population. Unfortunately, evidence shows the drugs do not help prevent mortality in that situation. There is also no proven efficacy of the value of statins in patients using dialysis, researchers said.

[Source: News Medical]

High cholesterol safer for women?

In a study of more than 40,000 men and women under the age of 60, men with high cholesterol had more than three times the risk of having a heart attack, compared with women with high cholesterol.

…“We believe that females below 60 years of age may be protected against some of the cardiovascular consequences of having high cholesterol due to female sex hormones such as estrogen,” he said.

…“The use of lifestyle modification and statin therapy is one of the most effective, cost-effective and high-value therapeutic approaches to prevent cardiovascular events and prolong life in men as well as women,” Fonarow said. “Attention to cholesterol levels and other risk factors [emphasis added] remain vital for both men and women.”

If females are protected by oestrogen and yet high cholesterol is said to cause heart disease, the lipid hypothesis is invalidated. Focus should be heavily on other risk factors. Read my book.

[Source: Poughkeepsie Journal]

Nitric oxide via sun exposure for blood pressure regulation

“Production of the pressure-reducing compound, nitric oxide, is separate from the body’s manufacture of vitamin D, which rises after exposure to sunshine.”

Proof that, where possible, your vitamin D should mostly be coming from UV exposure because you would be getting more than vitamin D, along with other benefits.

Perhaps, though, a manufacturer could up with a vitamin D + nitric oxide supplement?

Cholesterol and seasons

In my book Prescribing Sunshine… I argue that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease. New research indicates more erosion of the cholesterol hypothesis.

“Researchers prospectively evaluated the lipid profiles of 227,359 individuals who had health check-ups in primary care centers in the city of Campinas, Brazil, between 2008 and 2010. In this analysis—the largest study to date to evaluate cholesterol levels by season—data reveal that low density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol increased an average of 7mg/dL during the winter compared to summer. Researchers say this moderate, but significant, increase in LDL cholesterol was enough to result in an 8 percent overall increase in the prevalence of high cholesterol during the winter.”

“The shorter days of winter also mean less sun exposure and subsequently lower concentrations of vitamin D. Vitamin D has been shown to improve the ratio of bad to good cholesterol.”

The argument then is this: is it the high cholesterol or the low vitamin D which is problematic?