March 31, 2014

261 Reducing Cardiovascular Disease [31 March 2014]

One of the three medical journal articles mentioned in my March 17 column #259 deserves a closer look. Aseem Malhotra, a UK cardiologist, wrote in an October 2013 British Medical Journal editorial: “It’s time to bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease.”

Malhotra also points out that a pattern of blood lipids called atherogenic dyslipidemia is a more significant risk factor of cardiovascular disease than total cholesterol. This pattern of high LDL cholesterol, low HDL, and high triglycerides is commonly associated with metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Atherogenic dyslipidemia responds well to a low carb diet but not to a low fat diet.

Dr. Malhotra claims that despite 60 million prescriptions annually for statin drugs in the UK there is no evidence that they have reduced cardiovascular deaths. He also observed that 66% of patients hospitalized with a heart attack have metabolic syndrome while only 25% have abnormal cholesterol.

Malhotra pointed out that statins are known to prevent second heart attacks when used at high doses, regardless of the patients’ cholesterol levels. This and the fact that no other cholesterol lowering drug reduces cardiac mortality, suggests to him that statins work by stabilizing plaque and reducing inflammation, rather than by lowering cholesterol. An interesting theory which, if found to be true, should prompt researchers to look for safer means to reduce inflammation. On the issue of safety, Malhotra reported a study which found that 20% of patients stopped taking statin drugs because of unacceptable side effects.

For prevention, Malhotra promotes the Mediterranean diet which he claims is more effective at reducing cardiovascular disease than a low fat diet or statin drugs. This diet is high in olive oil, fruit, nuts (especially walnuts), vegetables, and cereals; moderate in fish and poultry; and low in red and processed meats and dairy. Wine is used in moderation and only with meals.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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