Thursday, August 21, 2014

Heart Health!

Lorde-Glory and Gore

In light of Swimming's cholesterol, I'll be posting here some information on how to take control of your heart health. For ten years now, Swimming has controlled elevated LDL and overall cholesterol (genetic) through diet and exercise; each year being more active and healthier than the previous. Please note that if you have problematic H. pylori (the bacteria that is the cause of most duodenal ulcers--we all have it but certain cases it becomes out of control) can also increase LDL levels (due to inflammation that the bacteria causes in the intestines) and can also lead to  atherosclerosis. The literature is limited on this relation, however, it points to something interesting that might be occurring. As a side note: anyone dealing with GERD or ulcers that haven't subsided with short-term use of medication should also have their gastrin levels checked. 

(1) Several months ago the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology just released new guidelines for cholesterol levels and therapeutics:
Here's the reader's digest version.
Here's the longer Times summary. 
Here is the AHA's summary of their 4 new guidelines.  
Here's their online calculator to figure out your risk of heart disease and stroke.  
Lastly, here's AHA guideline resource center which has more info on CV disease, diabetes, obesity and the guidelines.
Here are the full guidelines (NB: both these organizations have industry disclosures.) 
-Anyone dealing with this or at risk read the guidelines and if you have questions ask (myself and I'll consult with my resources or your own physician.) The new guidelines account for the multitude of side-effects the may come with the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs. (FYI all drugs are not created equal. Unfortunately I've personally seen these drugs handed out like candy after a pharm rep dropped off a bunch of samples at a Cardiologist's office.) I personally have been incredibly vigilant about modifying lifestyle as much as possible so I can delay the use of medication by keeping my overall cholesterol to <200 and my LDL to around 100 or less (my earlier discussion reg. my ulcer has totally messed this up for me.) Statins are extremely effective at lowering cholesterol but for many the use of statins come at a high price. Anyone on the border that could avoid statin use with diet and exercise should strongly consider doing everything they can to delay their start of statins therapy (esp if you're like me and are in your 20s or 30s.) Statins are powerful at lowering the risk of Cardiovascular disease and this coupled with the other advancements (Stents etc...) in cardiology have collectively decreased cardiovascular deaths in the past 30 years tremendously and have also increased the life span of humans. With that said, please please please do your part to take care of your heart! How? read further! 

(2) Cooking for lower cholesterol 
and here's some more information on a low fat diet.
-This is really just good information. I have been on a low fat, low sodium, high fiber diet for some time now and the initial transition I had to make when I was 18 was difficult but well worth it. I haven't really had fast food in a very long time, I just don't even go for anything fried (this was easy to give up since fried foods also cause acid reflux). I love steamed veggies! Letting go of cookies and ice cream is just plain hard since I love both. I'm not fully there yet but I would say now every few months I allow myself these treats (mainly seasonal.) 

(3) Good background information on fats and cholesterol. 

(4) Warning: fish oil supplements have also been known to raise LDL.  

(5) Some last links--info and debate on statins (from the evidence I've read I see that they are beneficial, but I always think the first line of defense should be diet and exercise):

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