Here's How Cholesterol Damages Your Heart

High blood cholesterol is known to contribute to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which in turn increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Now, researchers from the Saint Louis School of Medicine have found out how it does this.

The researchers found, using an animal model, that cholesterol limits the activity of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), a key protective protein that protects your heart’s aorta and other vessels from damage caused by hypertension, high cholesterol, and other factors.

Cholesterol suppresses the responsiveness of cardiovascular cells to TGF-beta, which allows atherosclerosis to develop.

Atherosclerosis damages and narrows arteries of your heart and other tissues, which prevents blood from pumping through properly. This increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

The findings also suggest a possible mechanism by which people with high cholesterol are at an increased risk for other diseases such as cancer. TGF-beta is a known tumor suppressor, and when its protective effects become limited by high cholesterol, it could increase your risk of certain cancers.

The researchers hope their findings will lead to the development of new drug therapies to treat or prevent atherosclerosis.

Journal of Cell Science September 18, 2007

Science Daily September 21, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and high cholesterol has been singled out as the primary cause, at least according to conventional medicine.

The researchers in the above study have made an interesting connection between cholesterol and a protective protein in your body, but this is merely another ruse to use “science” to justify yet another unnecessary, expensive, and dangerous drug to solve a non-problem.

Already, statin drugs are being prescribed like candy for millions of people. Why? To lower your cholesterol to a set level that was determined by a biased panel of doctors; eight of the nine doctors on the panel that developed the new cholesterol guidelines for the United States had been making money from the drug companies that manufacture statin drugs.

Before 2004, a 130-milligram LDL (bad) cholesterol level was considered healthy. The updated guidelines, however, recommended levels of less than 100, or even less than 70 for patients at very high risk.

But did anyone actually know whether the very low cholesterol levels recommended by the panel were beneficial?

No. In fact, there is no evidence to support their low target numbers, and, what's more, the combination of two or three statin drugs that patients can be prescribed to hit those targets will invariably do far more harm than good in the long run.

Even if the lower cholesterol numbers were beneficial, one must look at the overall effect of the drug, which lowers an important liver enzyme, coenzyme Q10. Since most rarely receive this as a supplement when they are on statin drugs, you can actually have an increase in cardiac risk as a result of this drug-induced vitamin deficiency.

Does High Cholesterol Even Cause Heart Disease?

Cholesterol is only an innocent bystander to the problem of heart disease. You can read this informative article by expert Ron Rosedale, MD to find out the details on why cholesterol is NOT the cause of heart disease.

The causes of heart disease are much more complex, and rather than going out and getting your cholesterol tested, there are four, much more powerful, blood tests to indicate your heart disease risk.

They are:
  • HDL/Total Cholesterol Ratio: HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. That percentage should be above 24%.
  • Triglycerides/HDL Ratio: Divide your triglyceride level by your HDL level. That percentage should be below 2.
  • Fasting Insulin: Normalizing your fasting insulin level is a powerful and effective way to not only reduce your risk of heart disease, but also cancer. Your level should be below 5.
  • Ferritin Levels: High iron levels will cause serious free radical damage, and are a FAR more important risk factor for heart disease than cholesterol levels. A simple blood test that measures ferritin levels can determine if your iron levels are dangerously elevated.
To lower your risk of heart disease, you need not focus solely on lowering your cholesterol. What you need to do is address the foundational causes, and some of the most effective ways to do this include:
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