The One Test You Must Ask Your Doctor For
On the Dr. Oz Show, health experts tell viewers that being on statin drugs is one of the biggest flaws in medicine for treating high cholesterol and that the latest cholesterol test you need is one that your doctor should be evaluating your cholesterol levels with rather than traditional HDL/LDL cholesterol tests.
“Are the traditional cholesterol tests that we do even relevant?” asks Dr. Oz as he introduces doctors Stephen Sinatra and Jonny Bowden authors of the controversial book “The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease - And The Statin-Free Plan That Will,” who both say that cholesterol is not that cause of heart disease and that people with high cholesterol live longer than people with low cholesterol.
“Everything that the medical community believes about cholesterol is wrong,” states Dr. Bowden.
“Most people worry about how high their cholesterol is, but the higher your cholesterol - the longer you will live,” claims Dr. Sinatra.
Doctors Sinatra and Bowden believe that the medical community is missing the mark when it comes to equating (and blaming) cholesterol with heart disease. From their years of experience they say that even people with low cholesterol are dying from heart disease, and that it is not due to cholesterol clogging your arteries as many doctors tell their patients.
Dr. Oz gives viewers a basic cholesterol biology lesson by explaining when people think of cholesterol they picture a thick, goopy semi-solid mass not unlike a beaker of slightly melted butter flowing through and clogging arteries. However, he explains that such imagery is inaccurate and that cholesterol actually comes in two forms: HDL and LDL.
The HDL is the healthy cholesterol that is contained in such a way that as it flows through the blood vessels it does so without rupturing and sticking to arterial walls. As a visual aid, Dr. Oz shows HDL as being like balloons filled with cholesterol that are contained within a protective box.
The LDL on the other hand, is the bad cholesterol that is not contained within protective boxes; but rather, is like fragile, unprotected balloons of cholesterol that burst as they travel through blood vessels, emptying their contents and causing plaque formation.
“That’s the fundamental difference in how cholesterols are carried through your body,” says Dr. Oz. “I think that it is vitally important to know cholesterol numbers—that’s my perspective. But my colleagues, these doctors, argue that that is not the full story,” says Dr. Oz adding that it is not the total cholesterol that matters, but how it is carried.
Dr. Sinatra explains that the root cause of heart disease is inflammation.
“Inflammation causes that plaque. And what causes inflammation? Well, it’s the weight we carry, the food we put in our body…and sugar is the enemy—sugar is the villain,” says Dr. Sinatra explaining that sugar in the blood from our diet is what causes the LDL cholesterol to “gunk up” inside the arteries.
A second problem has to do with statin drugs. Doctors Sinatra and Bowden state that it is myth to believe that statin drugs are safe and will help you live longer.
“Statins are anti-inflammatory drugs—there’s no question about that—they thin the blood and they happen to lower the cholesterol. But that’s the problem…cholesterol is not the root problem of heart disease—it's inflammation,” says Dr. Sinatra adding that statins have a tremendous number of harmful side effects.
However, Dr. Sinatra does not totally discount statins as he points out that there is only one population where statins are helpful—middle aged men with coronary disease. “Statins have some utility, but for the overall population, especially women and children, I don’t prescribe statins at all,” says Dr. Sinatra as he points to studies that have shown that postmenopausal women on statin drugs were shown to have a greater risk of developing diabetes, cancer, coronary calcification, memory loss, liver problems, muscle pain and sexual dysfunction.
Dr. Bowden adds that putting children on statins to help lower their blood cholesterol levels happens too often and is a big mistake made by doctors.
“The child’s brain is not fully grown until age 25. We need cholesterol for memory, for thinking, for sex hormones. The idea of putting children on cholesterol lowering drugs is just the greatest tragedy waiting to happen—it’s a bad idea,” says Dr. Bowden.
The Cholesterol Answer for Good Health—Anti-inflammatories and the LDL Particle Size Test
Both doctors Sinatra and Bowden recommend that people should go off their statin drugs, and rather than focus on lowering their cholesterol that they should focus on being heart healthy—ridding the body of inflammation by removing stress from your life in toxic relationships, and eating healthy foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as eating fish oils and other supplements that are anti-inflammatory. Getting outside for exercise and plenty of sunshine for generating vitamin D are also recommended.
“Keeping your heart healthy is not the same as lowering your cholesterol,” says Dr. Bowden.
But when it comes to cholesterol numbers, doctors Sinatra and Bowden state that there is one test you must have to get an accurate picture of whether your cholesterol is at harmful levels—the “LDL Particle Size Test.”
According to Dr. Sinatra, LDL is really not the bad cholesterol people make it out to be. Rather, it’s the type of LDL that is in your blood. He explains that LDL cholesterol comes in both large and small particle sizes and that when the LDL particles are large, they do not get stuck in blood vessel walls, but flow through without causing harm. However, when LDL particles are small, they tend to get stuck in blood vessel walls, bore in, and cause inflammation, which then leads to plaque development and heart disease.
Doctors Sinatra and Bowden and Oz all agree that when you go in to see your doctor and your cholesterol levels are being checked, that you should ask for the LDL Particle Size Test and find out if you have an excessive number of small LDL particles in comparison to large LDL particles.
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Reference: The Dr. Oz Show-- "Is Everything You Know About Cholesterol Wrong?"