According to conventional thinking, there are identifiable risks for coronary disease and heart attack. These risk factors are:
* high blood pressure
* high blood cholesterol and excessive saturated fat intake
* being overweight or obese
* physical inactivity
I'd agree with all the factors listed (though I would argue about the importance of high blood cholesterol and saturated fat; they are not as important as commonly made to be.)
Is the list complete ?
From the unique perspectives gained in the Track Your Plaque program, I'd offer a significantly different list. Trying to stop or reduce coronary atherosclerotic plaque and heart scan scores makes you a whole lot smarter about what works and what doesn't work.
So, in addition to the risk factors listed above, I would add:
* Small LDL particles --Lots of small LDL particles is MORE important than high LDL.
* High blood pressure with exercise
* Excessive wheat intake and other processed carbohydrates--An issue of explosive importance today. Wheat creates large numbers of small LDL particles, among other adverse effects.
* Vitamin D deficiency --Among the most powerful risks I know of. It belongs at the top of the list.
* Vitamin K2 deficiency
* Low HDL cholesterol
* Blood sugar >100 mg/dl
* High triglycerides --While some argue about whether triglycerides are a risk that behaves independently of patterns like low HDL, they are neglecting the potent force of this risk. Sure, it occurs in tandem with low HDL (usually, though not always), but it is a factor that can leave you with risk even when HDL is raised to healthy levels.
* Lipoprotein(a) --It is eminently, positively crystal clear that lipoprotein(a) is a powerful risk for heart disease. The lack of a profitable treatment keeps it hidden in the shadows.
* Pessimism --Be happy, do better. Be a constantly angry, frustrated, complaining sourpuss and you are more likely to succumb to heart disease, cancer, or other undesirable fate.
These are the risk factors that we address through the Track Your Plaque program, a list that yields a far more powerful and comprehensive approach to control over coronary plaque/atherosclerosis, sufficient to achieve reversal in many (though not in all) instances.
I view the list of conventional risk factors as a "no brainer" list. Sure, smoking is a risk factor. But there are virtually no smokers in the Track Your Plaque program. If you smoke, you clearly don't care enough to engage in a high-intensity prevention program like this.
Saturated fat? Perhaps, but the battlefield of heart disease is riddled with the bodies of those who employed this as their sole strategy and failed catastrophically.
Diabetes, hypertension, and overweight all represent a continuum of risk; the solutions offered in the conventional scheme (i.e., low-fat diet, etc.) make these patterns worse , not better.
The conventional response to heart disease risk is trapped somewhere in 1973 and has not changed in over 30 years. Heart disease continues to be a growth industry for hospitals and the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. The "official" organizations continue to deliver an antiquated, outdated message.
If you want heart disease, follow the American Heart Association diet. If you want established heart disease to get worse, follow the American Heart Association diet. If you want diabetes or, if you already have diabetes or pre-diabetes, if you want it to worsen and develop organ damage (eyes, kidneys, nervous system, etc.), then follow the American Diabetes Association diet. USDA food pyramid? Loosen your belt!
The list of conventional risk factors for heart disease is woefully inadequate. If that is as far as your prevention program takes you, heart disease will not be controlled or prevented. At best, it might be slowed; at worst--and more likely --it might be accelerated.