An Under-Recognized Enemy to Cardiovascular Health
Chris D. Meletis, ND (with permission from cpmedical.net, access pin: 587556)
We all know that smoking, high cholesterol levels and obesity are bad for our hearts. However, although many people have never heard of fibrinogen, a high level of the protein fibrinogen in the blood is rapidly coming to light as the latest enemy to good cardiovascular health. In a study in the journal Circulation, researchers discovered that high levels of this dangerous protein in the blood not only put individuals at risk for heart disease, but can amplify the hazards of other standard heart attack risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and high cholesterol.1
Heart Disease 101
Heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States since 1921, and stroke has been the third leading cause since 1938. Together they account for approximately 40 percent of all deaths.2 This epidemic of heart disease led a surge of research studies in the 1940s to establish the major risk factors for heart disease that included: high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and dietary factors (particularly dietary cholesterol, fat, and sodium) in addition to socioeconomic status, obesity, and physical inactivity.3-8 Yet these early detected factors are but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to protecting your cardiovascular system. To worry only about your weight or cholesterol would be like washing your car and thinking you are prepared for a cross-country road trip.
Cholesterol is a risk factor that merits our attention and we should definitely strive to prevent it from becoming exceedingly elevated. In fact, cholesterol is really just one chapter in the full heart health story. We now know that substances in the blood other than cholesterol contribute significantly to cardiovascular disease and serve as triggers for potentially catastrophic events such as heart attacks and strokes. These substances include fibrinogen, homocysteine and C-reactive protein (CRP).
Fibrinogen is of particular concern because its presence creates the inherent possibility of developing clots and damaging the cardiovascular system. Let’s take a closer look at this missing link called fibrinogen.