Cardiovascular Disease - Risk Factors

The 24 Risk Factors of Arterial Disease

Why does one person get cardiovascular disease and another person doesn’t?  What is at the root cause of cardiovascular disease in one person may differ from the next person?

Each risk factor is like a dagger that stabs the heart.  Any one of these risk factors/daggers would kill if thrust deep into the heart.  In the real world, however, aging humans suffer small pricks from each risk factor over their lifetime.  The cumulative effect of these risks or pricks is arterial occlusion and angina or acute heart attack or stroke.

These risk factors are:

  • Low EPA/DHA (commonly found in fish oil)
  • Elevated HS-CRP (highly sensitive C-Reactive Protein)
  • Excess LDL
  • Excess insulin
  • Low HDL
  • High blood glucose/sugar
  • Nitric oxide deficit
  • Insufficient vitamin D
  • Excess estrogen
  • Excess triglycerides
  • Low free testosterone
  • Excess fibrinogen
  • Excess homocysteine
  • Hypertension
  • Low vitamin K
  • Excess cholesterol
  • Oxidized LDL (chemically altered cholesterol that infiltrates the artery wall and damages the endothelial cells)
  • High ferritin
  • Heavy metals
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Excess lipoprotein (a) (toxic form of cholesterol)
  • Excess abdominal fat
  • Stress

Through extensive laboratory testing, medical history, review of symptoms and physical exam, we determine your degree of cardiovascular risk.  Once plaque forms in the arteries, it is difficult to undo the damage: Thus prevention is key.

There are many studies that show how and why the above factors are risks for cardiovascular disease.  There is not the time or space to review each one but we’ll summarize the recent findings on a few to help you understand the importance of treating these factors if they are found to be present.

Jarosz and Nnowicka (C-reactive protein and homocysteine as risk factors of atherosclerosis. Przegl Lek. 2008;65(6):268-72.) analyzed blood levels of homocysteine and C-reactive protein in heart attack patients compared with a control group who had no symptoms of heart attack.  The groups were matched for serum cholesterol, HDL, triglyercides, age, sex, body mass index and blood pressure. The results showed that compared with the control patients:

• 32% more heart attack patients had homocysteine levels above  10mmol/L
• 500% more heart attacks patients had homocysteine levels above 15 mmol/L
• 572%  more heart attack patients had C-reactive protein levels above 3.00 mg/L

This study demonstrates the importance of keeping homocysteine below 10 mmol/L (optimal levels are below 7-8 mmol/L) and C-reactive protein as low as possible (optimal levels are below 0.55 mg/L for men and 1.5 mg/L for women).

To view the optimal blood levels of cardiac risk markers you should seek to attain, log on to www.lef.org/heart.