Heart Disease Explained

On our webinar, Carl asks the question about heart disease, and I had done some research and below is some of the resources and findings.

First, so that we are on the same page, let’s start with a definition.

The cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease.

This information focuses on Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a condition which affects the arteries that supply the heart with blood. It is usually caused by atherosclerosis which is a buildup of plaque inside the artery walls. This buildup causes the inside of the arteries to become narrower and slows down the flow of blood.

There are two different sources I am using for the summary I providing here.  One is very detail, technical discussion by Peter Attica, MD who is a former surgeon and now focus on health and longevity.

There are two articles from Chris Kresser M.S., L.Ac who practices functional medicine and is the co-director of the California Center for Functional Medicine, founder of Kresser Institute.  His reports are much easier to read.

Here is a summary of basic findings:

Here is some basic facts.  

  • Cholesterol is essential for life and there is no bad cholesterol
  • Cholesterol is a very tightly regulated by your body.
  • Eating cholesterol has very little impact on the cholesterol levels in your body. This is a fact, not my opinion. Years ago the Canadian Guidelines removed the limitation of dietary cholesterol. (Peter Attia)
  • For cholesterol to be transported through the bloodstream, it requires a transport vessel called lipoproteins. These vessels transport other particles besides cholesterol, such as triglycerides.  

The process begins with one of the vessels get in between the internal wall of the artery and the outer wall.  Sometimes that body can handle this condition, but if it happens enough times it can not. These lipoproteins are not supposed to be there and cause an immune response to attempt to remove of it. Over time this causes atherosclerosis which is a buildup of plaque inside the artery walls.

In this context, is less about cholesterol and more about the number of vessels.  These articles, representing the new understanding, the main risk factor is not total cholesterol or LDL-C, but the count of the number of boats, LDL-P.  There is information that the size of the different LDL particles should be considered a risk factor with larger size particles being less risky than small particles.  You can request from your doctor when you have a blood test to have a more detail lipid panel, providing the counts versus the standard lipid panel.

Here is an easier to read article from Chris Kessler

Article: The Diet-Heart Myth: Why Everyone Should Know Their LDL Particle Number

What conditions impact the number of LDL-P (particles)?

  • Insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome
  • Poor thyroid function
  • Infections
  • Leaky gut
  • Genetics

Article: What Causes Elevated LDL Particle Number? By Chris Kessler (Easier read)

Article: The straight dope on cholesterol – Part IX by Peter Attica

Further to this discussion, Peter Attia talks about this condition is beginning and seen in younger people even if they have not manifested an event.  This article goes through the overall process of atherosclerosis. This is very detailed.

Article: When does heart disease begin (and what this tells us about prevention)?

In this article is indicates this condition begins at an early age.  

If I understand Peter’s statement the risk factors are:

#1 risk factor is age

#2 is LDL-P.  

There are other conditions, but it appears these are direct contributors.  Peter has been on the Ketogenic lifestyle for many years.

What I have learned that our body is a healing machine, if we provided it the right environment it will hear.  If a condition is manifesting or we can see it through different tests, like a blood test, the body is telling us something is out of balance.  Then find the source of the unbalance and correct it.