When doctors talk about your risk of cardiovascular disease, what does that even mean? They’re referring to your risk of having a heart attack, a stroke or heart failure.
Why does this happen? Atherosclerosis is the cause, and this means buildup of plaque and thickening of your artery walls. Atherosclerosis is universal; we are all developing plaque in our arteries. The most important question is: how quickly?
The rate of plaque formation is what I try to understand in each patient. I look at 4 factors:
- How many lipids are floating down your blood stream? (LDL-P, Total Cholesterol)
- How many of those lipids are sticky? (LDLs, VLDLs, Small LDL-P, etc)
- How inflamed are your arteries (CRP, Homocysteine)
- How much plaque or thickening is currently present? (Calcium score, IMT ultrasound)
Treatment for cardiovascular disease in the conventional community is universally the use of statin medications. I find this to be insufficient in most cases. When some people take statin medications their lipids drop significantly, but the sticky lipids do not, which doesn’t really reduce the rate of plaque formation that much. In cases of severely elevated lipids, statins are essential to override that genetic influence. But there are a lot of side effects to statins, and often people can’t tolerate them well. If you are taking a statin medication, it’s important to supplement with CoQ10, an antioxidant that is depleted with statin use.
My approach is to figure out how much genetics versus lifestyle is causing a rise in lipid production and inflammation. I run more comprehensive testing including blood work and a carotid artery ultrasound, known as the IMT Scan. These noninvasive tests help give me an understanding of how much plaque is currently present and what the rate of atherosclerosis is.
Treatment is multifactorial. Overriding genetics, managing exercise and muscle mass, reducing carbohydrates and increasing protein are important factors. I utilize nattokinase, berberine, niacin, and other supplements to reduce plaque formation, artery inflammation, and lipid counts. I have followed IMT scans and watched arterial thickening and plaque decline over time. This approach is a well rounded way to reduce atherosclerosis and your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.