Four Smart, Surprising Health Moves: PART TWO
by CPA/Attorney James Lange
In October, I published Part One of this article. The following is the remainder. My comments and observations will appear throughout in italics.
Smart Move #3: Take These Three Heart Tests
The standard stress tests to assess cardiac health are good but these three types of screeners do a more thorough job.
- High-sensitivity CRP test. This blood test checks for inflammation in your system, but it doesn’t indicate where the inflammation is—it could come from an infection or a chronic inflammatory disease. Inflammation plays a role in the process of atherosclerosis, in which fatty deposits clog your arteries. A high level of CRP is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, and it can help predict your risk factor for a heart attack. Because there is variability in CRP levels, the test needs to be done twice about two weeks apart.*
*Thanks to Lauri Lang, a nutritionist, for alerting us to the incorrect description of what the CRP test measures. The original article indicated that the test measured plaque in the bloodstream, but a crosscheck with the Mayo Clinic website (mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease/art-20049357) clarified what the CRP test measures.
- Cardiac myeloperoxidase (MPO) test. MPO in the blood is a specific marker of vascular inflammation and vulnerable plaque. This test reflects your risk for the rupture of unstable plaque, which occurs when a cholesterol pocket in the wall of your coronary artery is large enough to spontaneously burst into the artery itself causing a heart attack.
- PLAC The PLAC test measures the amount of Lp-PLA2 in the bloodstream. Lp-PLA2 is an enzyme that can assess the amount of inflammation in your arteries due to a build-up of cholesterol.
These biochemical blood tests can be combined with cardiac calcium scoring (an X-ray of your heart) or a carotid artery doppler (an ultrasound of the carotid vessels in your neck) to show how much plaque is in your coronary arteries. They provide information that can indicate whether the situation is likely to worsen. You and your doctor can then decide whether statins (cholesterol-lowering medication) might make a positive difference for you.
Important: Pay attention if the calcium scoring results show that you have obvious plaque combined with elevated results from the MPO or PLAC test. If so, you are at higher risk of a serious event. Anyone with such results should have an aggressive program to stabilize and arrest plaque formation which may involve changes in areas such as diet, stress management, exercise and blood pressure/blood sugar medications. The return on that investment can mean your life—literally.
Caveat: Don’t be surprised if your physician doesn’t mention these tests as many health insurance plans don’t cover them.
My family and I became patients of Dr. Dan Carlin, a concierge medicine doctor, and I want to mention a few things:
- I’ve never had a more thorough examination with a doctor. He ordered a bunch of tests no doctor had ordered before.
- He wrote a three-page letter summarizing the results with recommendations.
- In the long run, the money I am paying Dr. Carlin won’t matter, but the collective health of my family will matter.
Smart Move #4: Take These Two Nutrients Together for Better Heart Health
Want those heart tests results to come back looking strong? Get to know two nutrients:
- Coenzyme Q1 O (CoQ1O)
These naturally occurring antioxidants are beneficial on their own, but research shows that when combined, their effects can be life-altering.
CoQ1O has been recommended as a supplement for over a decade since it was found to decrease in the body as we age. Selenium is also sold as a supplement with antioxidant properties, and deficiency in Selenium is linked to chronic illnesses such as cancer and diabetes.
Alone, selenium and CoQ1O each can eliminate free radicals—molecular byproducts that cause damage over time to cellular structures. In the heart, that often translates into coronary artery disease and impaired cardiac muscle function.
But their ability to work together reveals a combined effectiveness that is far greater. A Swedish study examined this combination among people aged 70 to 88. The result was astonishing: a 50% decrease in cardiac death risk among those who took a daily combination of selenium and CoQ1O!
Bonus: The benefit of the selenium/CoQ1O combination appears to be long-lasting. Following the first study, the same researchers tracked the original group for four more years, showing that they had 15% fewer inpatient hospital days. Ten years later, the original group continued to experience a 50% reduction in death rates from heart attack, stroke, and congestive heart failure.
Advice: Try to consume the two nutrients, daily, through a Mediterranean diet that includes oily fish (like tuna and salmon), organ meats (such as liver), whole grains, and unprocessed sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts. Otherwise, take a daily selenium/CoQ1O tablet supplement. If you’re over age 60, consider Ubiquinol, a modified version of CoQ1O that’s more easily absorbed.
Please note that this is one doctor’s opinion about supplements. Please do your research and consult with your physician. I have been persuaded by advocates of fish oil, probiotics, Vitamin D and turmeric. I take the supplements recommended in this article, the ones I listed and many more.
We all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Being proactively smart with your exercise routine, your sleep, and your heart health today can potentially set you up for decades of amazing results—and an even better life than you thought possible.
 Urban Alehagen, Peter Johansson, Mikael Bjomstedt, Anders Rosen, Ulf Dahlstrom. Cardiovascular mortality and N-terminal-proBNP reduced after combined selenium and coenzyme Q7 0 supplementation: A 5-year prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial among elderly Swedish citizens. International Journal of Cardiology, September 1, 2013, Volume 767, Issue 5.