Dr. Reese’s Bits and Pieces
February 2019 Newsletter
February is upon us and before you know it, it will be spring. So far, the mountains have had a pretty good ski season (except for most of January) and Vail got another 9 inches overnight. I’ve been able to golf most weeks, at least once, somewhere. As I write, the snow is coming down pretty steadily so I’m glad I golfed yesterday!
February is the month for Ground Hog’s Day, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day and President’s Day. That’s a lot of reasons to party in one short little month! It is also National Heart Month.
Heart Disease Stats
According to the CDC: Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. More than 600,000 Americans die of heart disease each year. That’s one in every four deaths in this country. The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type is coronary artery disease, which can cause heart attack. Other kinds of heart disease may involve the valves in the heart, or the heart may not pump well and cause heart failure. Some people are born with heart disease.Having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes also can increase your risk for heart disease. (https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/docs/ConsumerEd_HeartDisease.pdf)
Well, if the CDC said it, it must be true that high cholesterol is one of the causes of heart disease. That tidbit of information sure sells a lot of cholesterol lowering medicine. I’ve written several newsletters in the past talking about how cholesterol is vitally important to your health and that the majority of people who die from heart disease, have normal or even low cholesterol levels.
In Dr. Al Sears recent book, “Low cholesterol doesn’t mean healthy veins and cardiovascular system. Just take a look at some of the research that debunks this myth: • Research done at the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale University found that nearly twice as many people with low cholesterol developed seriously poor cardiovascular health compared to those with high cholesterol. • One of the most well-known and publicized heart studies is the Framingham study. The findings are nearly identical to the Yale study. Half of the subjects developed extremely poor heart health despite having low cholesterol. (https://alsearsmd.com/pdf/heath-confidential-book.pdf)
So…What is Important?
The CDC is confirming that heart disease is the leading cause of death so what can we do to protect ourselves? Let’s start with the cheap solutions. Have your vitamin D, homocysteine and highly sensitive-CRP blood tests done along with all your other important markers. The lab I use charges $207 for 80 blood markers plus a urine test that includes these and many more.
Vitamin D reduces inflammation in your body, supports your immune systems and is protective against 30 different types of cancer. I take 10,000 IU’s in the winter and 5,000 IU’s in the summer.
High homocysteine means that you are not ingesting enough B-vitamins or you have a problem methylating the B-vitamins you are taking so they are not being absorbed. High homocysteine causes inflammation and your arteries to build up plaque. We now know there are genetic tests that can look for this methylation defect. The easy test is if your homocysteine is above 7, take the methylated forms of B6, B12 and folic acid and recheck in a few months.
HS-CRP also measures inflammation in your body and we want it below 1. Infections, high blood sugar, eating food you are sensitive to, chemical exposures from the environment, chronic over-exercising, etc. all feed inflammation in your body. The CRP is the monitor. There is always a cause to inflammation that needs to be addressed and CRP tells us how we are doing.
Lastly, getting a Heart Scan to see if you already have plaque in your arteries. In the past, Front Range Preventative Imaging has had a special price for heart scans during the month of February. No word if they are repeating that this year but it is the best way to see if you are plaquing your coronary arteries. Watch the Widow Maker documentary sometime on the internet or read my August 2015 newsletter to learn more about heart scans.