Who is The Real Culprit Behind Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular Disease and bodybuilders

What we are told to believe everyday

We’ve have it drilled into our minds loudly and clear everyday of our lives that Cholesterol this true culprit behind Cardiovascular Disease or is it? People have been believe that they must keep an eye on their cholesterol levels, if your levels are low than you can assume that you are automatically out of the woods and will avoid cardiovascular disease, but they may be…Wrong!

We as bodybuilders need to know the truth behind these clams, because to build muscle or any real mass, then we need to understand ‘how’ we interact with things like food, diet, calories, fat, and exercise and ‘Cardiovascular disease’ as a direct influence on the state of our fitness and ability to remain fit.

The fact still remains that under half of those who have heart attacks have abnormal cholesterol (blood lipid) levels. So if high cholesterol levels aren’t entirely to blame what is, well there is some very interesting research that clearly shows that the real culprit is something called…Inflammation.

Have we been sidetracked into believing that cholesterol is the main contributor to ‘Cardiovascular Disease’, if that was so a fact then ask yourself ‘Why’ is the evidence pointing in a different direction?  Let’s take a closer look at this killer disease and what may really lie behind it?

Looking Beyond Cholesterol & ‘Cardiovascular Disease’ – reactive protein

Scientists have long suspected that cholesterol may not be the Holy Grail to understanding the reasons behind heart disease, and now studies at two major medical institutions, confirm that elevated C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation, is also a key risk factor.

Inflammation plays a major role in the development and progression of artery-clogging atherosclerosis, the chief underlying cause of heart attacks and strokes.

The bottom line

It would seem that separate of any other risk factors, the higher your CRP levels remain, the higher your risk of developing cardiovascular catastrophe. But there is some good news, by adding CRP screening to lipid screening for those at risk of cardiovascular disease, inflammatory problems can be identify sooner, so you can take aggressive steps to control them.

About the Studies

In a issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, January 6, 2005, two different research groups came to almost the same conclusions about CRP. At the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a team examined the cases of 3,745 coronary disease patients to compare the effect of two cholesterol-lowering drugs…Atorvastatin (Lipitor), and Pravastatin (Pravachol). They found that it didn’t matter which medication you chose the real factor was lowering the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol numbers below 70 in high-risk patients, and lowering CRP to below 2 mg per litre of blood.

Those who managed to lower their LDL target, the risk of recurring heart attacks, or dying from a heart attack or stroke, were reduced by another 50% when the CRP level was lowered to 2 mg.

Another study by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation involved 502 heart disease patients. For 18 mouths they were put on a course of statins. Then they conducted Ultrasounds examinations of their arteries and confirmed that lower cholesterol levels did indeed lead to a slower progression of arterial blockage. Significantly, the tests also indicated that “the decrease in CRP levels was independently and significantly correlated with rate of progression”.

According to cardiologist Steven Nissen, MD, author of the Cleveland Clinic study, these two trials strongly suggest that we should focus on statin therapy to help reduce CRP, not just cholesterol. He adds that we must now begin to think of CRP as an accelerator of disease activity, not just a marker associated with high risk.

What You Should Do

It’s an unfortunate fact that most doctors do not monitor CRP as closely as cholesterol, even though it only takes a simple, inexpensive blood test to measure CRP. American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that general practitioners should consider testing CRP levels for those patients who are at intermediate risk for cardiovascular disease, which is defined as having a 10 to 20% risk for a heart attack in the next 10 years based on current health status and history.

If you are in this category, your doctor will inform you. Risk factors that can place you in this category include cholesterol numbers, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Still another reason ‘Why’ you should watch your CRP levels

In another research they discovered that elevated CRP levels may be an early indication of type 2 diabetes. Dr. Nissen highly stresses the need to get both the cholesterol and CRP levels under control. Fortunately, if you follow the guidelines for a healthy lifestyle to help enhance cardiovascular wellness can help reduce CRP levels.

Maintaining your weight can help

Unfortunately, as your body weight increases so does the levels of CRP, and Dr. Nissen points out that reducing intra-abdominal fat can help reduce CRP levels by up to 40 to 50%.

Follow a healthful diet

As bodybuilders we should take more notice of our diets, not only to help increase muscle size, and reduce body fat, but because there is a link with CRP, and a well-planned and well-balanced diet is necessary to getting your weight under control. If however, your CRP remains elevated, even after your lifestyle adjustments, then your doctor will recommend medications that will help to control the situation. At present, statins (the same drugs prescribed to lower cholesterol) are the only drugs known to reduce CRP.

There is another drug waiting in the background for anti-obesity, anti-smoking…rimonabant (Acomplia), which shows some promise in lowering CRP. The chances are that current research will spark greater interest in developing more new medications.

There are also a number of non-prescription options for reducing CRP, including antioxidant, omega-3, and vitamin B-12 therapies to name, but a few. I would suggest that you try all the natural options before considering taking problem-prone statins.

A note to all you young ones out there, don’t think that this article as nothing to do with you, because CRP build-up starts when you are…young!!

Scientists still have a lot to learn about cardiovascular disease, and there are many risk factors out there that are yet to be uncovered.

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