As it gets close to Valentine’s Day, many of our thoughts turn to the heart. At The Survival Doctor, we’re no exception. And so, this week, we celebrate in our own little way, with posts on how to prevent heart disease. Because there’s nothing more of a bummer than to be trying to survive a disaster only to be struck down by a heart attack.
Unfortunately, that’s not too unusual of an occurrence. And many people don’t even have a warning. You’re stressed to the max, maybe doing labor you’re not used to, not eating right, maybe out of your medicines, and you begin having chest pain.
In past posts, I’ve written about what you can do for a heart attack and a fast heart rate until you can get to a doctor, but this week, I’ll concentrate on the best option: prevention—specifically, how to lower high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure. Today, we’ll go over cholesterol.
I’ll leave it to you and your doctor to decide how high your cholesterol needs to be before you need treatment and what specific treatment you need. In this post, I’ll explain what you can do if you have high cholesterol and can’t get to your doctor for long periods of time.
First, here’s a little background on cholesterol.
Cholesterol: the Good and the Bad
Most of you probably know there are two main types of cholesterol we measure in the blood.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad cholesterol because it builds the plaques in your arteries that clog up blood flow and that can break off and cause a heart attack.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the good cholesterol. We think HDL may actually carry the LDL away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it’s delivered to the intestine for excretion. Smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise tend to lower good cholesterol.
Does Changing Your Cholesterol Really Make a Difference?
Mostly, your blood cholesterol levels are the way they are because of your parents. They’re genetic. And to tell the truth, even though we know the good is good and the bad is bad, we’re still trying to understand how much changing these levels make a difference in heart disease.
I’m of the opinion that all these heart-disease risk factors (high blood pressure, cholesterol, genetics, inflammation, obesity, etc.) kind of mix together in ways we don’t yet understand. It’s like how eating the fruit or vegetable is usually better than taking the supplement because the whole food contains just the right mixture of micronutrients that seem to work together.
For that reason, I think the majority of the tips on the next page are good for everyone wanting better health. Maybe they work because they lower cholesterol, maybe it’s something else (such as lowering inflammation). Maybe it’s something we haven’t come up with, but putting the tips together, I think, helps make people healthier in more ways than we yet understand.
Photo by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.