Cholesterol is needed to maintain healthy cell membranes, build hormones like progesterone, estrogen, cortisol, and testosterone, and serve as the precursor 7-dehydrocholesterol for vitamin D creation in the skin. However, oxidized cholesterol is a different animal and can be a significant cardiovascular issue.
Doctors measure total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides. However, your regular cholesterol test does not measure oxidized cholesterol. So, is it possible to have lots of oxidized cholesterol in your arteries and normal cholesterol in your blood? Yes!
Testing for Oxidized Cholesterol
https://www.cardiosmart.org/news/2017/12/half-of-patients-with-ideal-cholesterol-have-underlying-heart-risks. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology investigated the current definitions of heart health and discovered half the people in the study had plaque build-up in their arteries that did not show up on their cholesterol screening. This group was composed of over 4,000 participants from the Progression of Early Subclinical Atherosclerosis (PESA) study in Spain.
Most of the participants were outwardly healthy non-smokers with optimal blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. However, researchers ascertained that 50% of the test group had significant plaque build-up in their arteries using heart imaging ultrasound or cardiac computed tomography (CT) scans. These imaging tests will determine the presence of oxidized cholesterol whereas all the other cholesterol tests will not.
Plaque build-up in the arteries is a high risk for heart attack. For example, ninety percent of those with excessive plaque in the left descending anterior artery (the widowmaker) die without warning.
Half the people looked healthy and passed the normal medical test results (including cholesterol) and were at risk of having a heart attack because of the oxidized cholesterol in their arteries. The usual cholesterol test you receive does not check for or identify that you have oxidized cholesterol in your arteries (plaque)
Cause of Oxidized
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130227151254.htm. Cholesterol becomes oxidized and increases the risk of heart attack by smoking, eating lots of polyunsaturated fats (corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil), and fried foods, especially those fried in reused oil that is prevalent in fast food restaurants.
We control our lifestyle choices (smoking) and our food choices. Oxidized cholesterol as plaque in our arteries is already there. We can prevent more from forming.
Preventive measures can optimize our heart health. The cholesterol test that your doctor orders for you do not measure oxidized cholesterol. Several of my friends asked me about cholesterol. Their doctor wanted to start them on statin drugs because their total cholesterol was high or approaching an upper limit. They did not have the typical high cholesterol health issue, but the doctor knew it would develop and wanted to pre-empt it.
Doctors want your non-oxidized (healthy) cholesterol less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). When your test results go above 200 mg/dL, you are borderline high. Above 240 mg/dL, you are in the danger zone for a heart attack even though there is no indication of how much of that cholesterol is oxidized.
The cholesterol ratio is the number derived from dividing the total cholesterol by the HDL reading. Optimally, you should fall between 3.5 and 1.0. Anything higher than 3.5 is considered entering a danger zone.
Not two weeks ago, I talked with a friend, and his doctor wanted him to start a statin drug because his total cholesterol was 210. I asked him about his cholesterol ratio, and he did not know. His doctor did not mention it to him. So, I suggested he ask his doctor about it before jumping on the pill program.
I have been blessed with low total cholesterol almost my entire life. When I entered the military, I was getting an annual physical. My total cholesterol was always between 104-114. I was concerned about having too little cholesterol.
My flight surgeon said not to worry. Our bodies make cholesterol, and when we eat many foods containing cholesterol (dairy, fatty meats, etc.), our bodies produce less. When we avoid those foods, our bodies make more. I asked about having too little cholesterol, and he told me not to worry, but I never got a definitive answer about when I should worry. I eventually found a flight surgeon who told me to worry when my total cholesterol was below 90 ng/dL. Even today, researching this article, I found almost no literature on low levels of cholesterol and health.
My standard diet decades ago that kept my total cholesterol in the 104-114 ng/dL range was cheese/bacon/sausage omelets, double/triple cheeseburgers, etc. I ate lots of food with cholesterol, and my body eliminated it. Today, decades later, my total cholesterol is still below 180 ng/dL, and my cholesterol ratio is around 2.0-2.5. I blame it on genes.
Cholesterol and heart health is not an exact science. However, suppose the doctors were measuring oxidized cholesterol. In that case, cholesterol as a biomarker might mean a lot more than measuring non-oxidized cholesterol that every cell in our body needs, especially our brains.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com