Dr. Magryta: Cholesterol part 6, a clarification
For full disclosure, I ran this series of articles by my favorite cardiology colleagues before I published the full set. What I learned was that the cholesterol understanding as I have laid it out is nowhere in sight in the world of practicing heart physicians. Simply put, I am providing an alternative hypothesis that is against the current grain.
I make this point because it is imperative that all readers know that any time you go against conventional wisdom, you run the risk of negative reactions from providers that disagree or do not know. This set of cholesterol and cardiology articles is meant to stimulate the reader to think beyond the simple answer that “statin medications” and cholesterol lowering are the primary, or only, answers to coronary artery heart disease.
I reiterate that the statin class of medications may or may not be a part of the solution for an at-risk heart disease patient. Every patient needs to weigh the risks and benefits of cholesterol-lowering medications in the context of a broader picture of disease. I firmly believe that a large part of the population could avoid drugs by following the prescription laid out in article 5. I have been practicing these principles for years and have seen my risk for disease plummet based on blood lipid parameters, markers of inflammation and general well being.
As a pediatrician, I see the world through a child’s eyes, which changes my viewpoint. Working to get children to understand these principles at a young age in order to prevent heart disease is my goal.
Kids are strong, resilient and rapidly repairing themselves. Therefore, if every child followed the protocol in article 5, I think that our disease risk nationwide would fall. Unfortunately, this is not happening.
We are failing. Most major disease parameters seem to be on a rapid upswing. Witness the recent publication on colorectal cancer rates in young Americans and the heart data.
“Yet for both stroke and heart disease, no single breakthrough can be credited for the progress made,” Dr. Rosamond from UNC Chapel Hill said. Rather, it has been the cumulative effect of better prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Some of those efforts have included:
• fewer people smoking and being exposed to secondhand smoke;
• better emergency response to heart disease;
• improved heart medications and procedures;
• scientific research advances;
• legislation to build healthier environments;
• increased public awareness about healthy living.
Despite the falling death rates, the number of people suffering from cardiovascular diseases is rising. “Risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and unhealthy diets remain high, experts say.” We are reducing death through medical management in a crisis but losing the battle to morbidity, disease frequency and poor quality of life.
Unfortunately, as I see in clinic daily, the average American child is living in ways opposite of article 5’s protocol. I believe that this is the reason the disease rates will continue to climb. These activities bring about all of the risk factors for heart disease including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and systemic inflammation.
My pollyanna nature leads me to believe that there is always hope. Yesterday, I spent some time with a teenager who bought into the program 100 percent. I was so proud of him. He has lost 29 pounds. He has no more stomach aches, has reduced anxiety and fewer headaches. His blood markers of disease are resolving. He is the poster child for the success of the lifestyle approach despite his genetic risk factors.
Dr. Chris Magryta is a physician at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. Contact him at email@example.com