Women continue to die in record numbers from heart disease. But don’t expect the American Heart Association to give you the answers. Their new guidelines for women sound like they came from directly from the mouths of drug companies and processed food makers.
Their advice? Avoid nutritional supplements… take aspirin… eat more low-fat foods… and have your doctor “monitor” your cholesterol. That’s just asking to be handed a cholesterol-lowering drugs.
This advice is troubling. Cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease in the first place. Cholesterol is the thing that heart disease acts upon. It’s the oxidation and inflammation that’s the disease. Secondly, many of the nutritional supplements they’re telling you to avoid – like vitamin E – are clinically supported as effective for treating heart disease.
In The Doctor’s Heart Cure, there’s a wealth of material that backs this up. Like the two big studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine.1,2 They showed that people who took vitamin E for at least two years had about a 40 percent (41 percent in women; 37 percent in men) lower risk of developing heart disease.
Last week, one of my patients told me she heard a doctor talking about these new guidelines on “Good Morning America.” The doctor said that women at risk for heart disease should get their LDL (bad cholesterol) below 70! He failed to mention this is nearly impossible unless you take statin drugs.
Many doctors put their patients on statin cholesterol drugs without even considering the alternatives. And this can be dangerous – especially for women.
For heart disease, women have different risk factors than men. What’s more, statin drugs are even less effective for women. Currently, there’s no evidence that lowering cholesterol in women with no history of heart disease has any benefit.
Two other factors – triglycerides and HDL – are far more important for women than total cholesterol or LDL (bad cholesterol). Unfortunately, most doctors still recommend drugs when they see a “high” LDL from a woman’s blood test.
If you’re a woman with high total cholesterol, before you accept any drug therapy, ask your doctor to measure the following 6 tests:
• HDL Cholesterol
• Blood Pressure
• Fasting Blood Glucose
• Waist Size
A simple blood test will do the trick. This complete picture will tell if any treatment is necessary and if so how to address the problem without drugs.
Remember… HDL is your trump card – especially for women. Keep that number high to stay out of danger.
The best way to raise HDL is with exercises like my PACE program. And if your triglycerides are high, drive them down. You can do this by decreasing starchy, hi-carb foods.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
1 Stampfer MJ, et al. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary disease in women. New England Journal of Medicine. 1993 May 20; 328(20):1444-1449.
2 Rimm EB, et al. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease in men. New England Journal of Medicine. 1993 May 20; 328(20):1450-1456.