Your Real Heart Check-Up

Health Alert 54

I’ve uncovered some rather unconventional ways to improve the health of your heart.

In today’s installment of your heart health program, I’ll show you how to get started.

Your heart must pump like a finely tuned motor every minute of your life. If it falters, you may die before you get a chance to even diagnose the problem -let alone fix it. Clearly, this is an argument for aggressive preventative action.

Yet prevention has never been a strong point of conventional medicine. This is especially apparent with heart health. Starving your body of fats, cardiovascular endurance exercises, cholesterol drugs, blood pressure drugs and surgeries are not healthy answers. And they cause additional problems.

My research says the real answers start with nutrition. Traditional medicine continues to minimize the role of nutrition. Heart health is no exception. To learn how your nutrition is affecting your heart you need to know your levels of the following:

• Homocysteine

• C-reactive protein


• Insulin

• VAP cholesterol

Unfortunately, your doctor probably won’t measure them unless you ask.

* The Real Tests of Heart Health *

Homocysteine irritates blood vessels and impairs dilating. This decrease in blood flow to the heart can lead to a heart attack. In Health Alert 23, I told you that homocysteine levels were a better predictor of heart attack than cholesterol. Homocysteine can actually initiate a heart attack. So having your levels monitored is very important.

The Physician’s Health Study found that participants who had high homocysteine levels were 3 times more likely to have a heart attack.1

I measure homocysteine with a blood test. Your homocysteine should be under 8. If your homocysteine is high, you can safely lower it by taking a supplement of vitamin B2 – 25 mg, B6 – 25 mg, B12 – 500 mcg and folate – 800 mcg.

C-reactive protein (CRP) tests are also as simple as drawing blood. The liver releases CRP in response to inflammation, injury , and infection. The plaques that line the arteries of those with heart disease cause inflammation. So CRP levels are a good predictor of heart disease.

The British Journal of Urology published a study which proved the importance of CRP. Researchers tested almost 400 people for CRP levels. They found that once the CRP level reached double the norm, the person was 150% more likely to suffer a heart attack.2

CoQ10 provides energy for your heart and other major organs. CoQ10 is required for deriving energy from oxygen. If your heart is deficient in CoQ10, it can pump less blood. This will lead to heart problems including congestive heart failure.

I also measure CoQ10 as a blood test. Most Americans do not get optimal amounts of CoQ10 from their diet. For those who have low levels, 100 mg per day should help. It is best to continue to get your levels monitored so you can adjust the dose as needed.

Insulin tells your body to convert food into fat stores. You release it in response to carbohydrate in the diet. Once your insulin is measured, you can be more specific about a heart healthy diet. It is incredible to me that physicians don’t measure it. If your insulin is above 20, avoid eating starchy foods like potatoes and bread. For more tips on the right foods to eat, read Health Alert 21.

VAP is more comprehensive than standard cholesterol tests because it has 5 extra testing categories. One of the strongest categories is the measurement of a protein called Lp(a). University of Pittsburgh researchers found that high levels of Lp(a) increase heart attack risk by 300%.

The traditional tests only find about 45% of cholesterol abnormalities. VAP’s data suggests it can find 90% of cholesterol abnormalities. You can learn more about the VAP test by reading Health Alert 45.

Your doctor can order each of these tests. They are all blood tests. You can get them all done at the same time. The sooner you measure the health of your heart, the sooner you can take the above steps toward real heart health.

Al Sears MD

1 Stamper M., et al. A prospective study of plasma homocysteine and the risk of myocardial infarction in U.S. physicians. JAMA 1992 Aug 19; 268 (7): 877-881

2 Mendall M., et al C-reactive protein and its relation to cardiovascular risk factor. Br J Urol 1996; 312: 1061-1065