Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Detecting silent heart disease by Jerry Brainum

Recently, an old acquaintance of mine from the original Gold's gym, Tony Nowak, died suddenly while vacationing in Italy. Tony's abrupt passing got me thinking about heart disease and ways to detect it. A few years ago, I wrote a series of articles in Ironman magazine about various medical tests, with one article in the series focusing on detecting heart disease. My primary message in that article was that the most common blood tests used for detection of cardiovascular risk are more superfical than anything else. You can pass these tests with flying colors,yet still be at serious risk of sudden death. The typical tests include total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein, low density lipoprotein, and triglycerides. While these tests are without doubt important, they don't tell the whole story about what's going on inside your body. To get a through evaluation of your health in relation to cardiovascular risk requires tests that aren't ordinarily part of the typical blood tests ordered by most physicians.
    These out of the way tests include lipoprotein(a), homocysteine, measurements of the size of both HDL and LDL fractions, C-reactive protein,and fibrinogen. These tests can show problems not detected by the usual blood tests, and could easily prove lifesaving. The fibrinogen test is a perfect example of this. The fibrinogen test measures the activity of a protein related to internal blood clotting. When you consider that the immediate cause of most heart attacks involves a blood clot lodged in and blocking a coronary artery, it's not hard to understand the importance of this test, yet few people undergo the test. Studies show that about 250,000 people who have fatal heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels, but they have elevated levels of fibrinogen. Had this been known, many of these people could have survived, despite the fact that none of the usual drugs to treat CVD, such as statins, have any significant effect on fibrinogen levels. The test used to determine elevated fibrinogen levels is called the functional intact fibrinogen test, again, not a test usually ordered by most doctors.
     Recently, researchers from Oregon Health and Science University developed a new fibrinogen test, called the gamma prime fibrinogen test. They developed the test after analyzing 3,400 blood samples, and finding that those with fibrinogen levels in the top 25 percent had a three-times greater chance of having coronary artery disease. These researchers have filed a patent pending on the test, and hope that it will be part of a routine blood test in the future,along with total blood cholesterol and others.In the meantime, what can you do to lower insidious high levels of blood fibrinogen? Women have an advantage in this regard, since estrogen lowers blood fibrinogen levels. This is one of the reasons why pre-menopausal women rarely suffer heart attacks. You also don't want to smoke, since smoking rapidly raises fibrinogen levels. Exercise, particularly aerobics, lowers fibrinogen levels. From a supplemental point of view, 2-3 grams a day of the spice turmeric effectively lowers elevated fibrinogen, as does 6 grams a day of fish oil, 2,000 milligrams a day of vitamin C.
     If you have any close relatives who suffered from, or died from CVD, it would be prudent to have these "accessory" blood tests done, including fibrinogen and others. They could easily prove life saving.

©,2012 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited

Have you been ripped off  by supplement makers whose products don’t work as advertised? Want to know the truth about them? Check out Jerry Brainum's book Natural Anabolics, available at JerryBrainum.com.


The Applied Ergogenics blog is a collection of articles written and published by Jerry Brainum over the past 20 years. These articles have appeared in Muscle and Fitness, Ironman, and other magazines. Many of the posts on the blog are original articles, having appeared here for the first time. For Jerry’s most recent articles, which are far more in depth than anything that appears on this blog site, please subscribe to his Applied Metabolics Newsletter, at www.appliedmetabolics.com. This newsletter, which is more correctly referred to as a monthly e-book, since its average length is 35 to 40 pages, contains the latest findings about nutrition, exercise science, fat-loss, anti-aging, ergogenic aids, food supplements, and other topics. For 33 cents a day you get the benefit of Jerry’s 53 years of writing and intense study of all matters pertaining to fitness,health, bodybuilding, and disease prevention.


See Jerry's book at  http://www.jerrybrainum.com


Want more evidence-based information on exercise science, nutrition and food supplements, ergogenic aids, and anti-aging research? Check out Applied Metabolics Newsletter at www.appliedmetabolics.com