Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Better Indicator of Potential Heart Problems?

Puzzle, Heart, Love, Two Hearts Over the past few years my numbers for cholesterol have been going up and last year the ratio took a significant jump.  I suspect the jump was due to my father suffering a stroke and my sister dying suddenly.

His recommendation was to go on a low cholesterol diet and think about taking cholesterol lowering medication.  I eat a mostly healthy diet, exercise regularly, am not over weight, do no smoke, nor do I drink.  I do not have any real risk factors for heart problems so when he suggested taking medication, I decided to do some research.  Before we go any further, I am not a doctor but I check things I read to be sure they are supported with research.

I discovered so much about the topic that I didn't know, nor did my doctor discuss.  Apparently there are two types of LDL or bad cholesterol.  One is small and dense while the other is large and fluffy.  According to several sources, the LDL type A molecule which is large and fluffy is a good type while the type B or small dense one is not good for people. A study from 1988 indicates that the more the LDL type B you have, the higher your chances of having heart problems.

In addition, the HDL particles are not always good.  It turns out there are many types of HDL molecules, more than originally thought.  Some of the HDL cholesterol helps clean build up from vessel walls while others take the cholesterol to places its not wanted.

In the book the authors, one of whom is a cardiologist, mention checking the ratio of triglycerides to HDL is a much better indicator of potential heart problems than the over ratio.  I found several papers which seem to support this claim.

The idea is to divide your total triglycerides number by your HDL value to give you a ratio.  If the ratio is 2 or below, you are in the ideal range and at the least risk of future heart attack or problems while a ratio of 4 is high and anything over 5 is not good.  In fact, the higher the ratio, the higher the risk you have of experiencing heart problems.

Due to this, I plan to discuss it with my doctor the next time I go in for a physical because my triglyceride/ HDL ratio is about 1.5, well below the cut off of two.  I do not want to end up on cholesterol lowering medications if I really don't need them.  I'm always cautious when its suggested I go on a medicine I might have to take for the rest of my life.

As stated earlier, I am not a doctor so I'm just sharing what I found in the book and that these claims appear to be supported by real research papers.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

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