LDL levels

  1. The wrong way to control your cholesterol

    I've got some exciting news this morning. As you've probably noticed, there's a new name at the top of this email. Dr. Mark Stengler is one of the nation's leading holistic doctors and the author of 17 books on natural healing, including three best-sellers.

    More importantly, he's also been my go-to guy whenever I have tough questions.

    And just last week -- as he was explaining why the next wave of cholesterol meds will be even worse than the statins I've been warning you about -- it hit me.

    "YOU should be writing House Calls!" I said.

    "I'd love to," he answered. "What's the catch?"

    "Well," I said. "It's a lot of hard work. There are a lot of readers who count on it. And the newsletter is completely free."

    He looked me in the eye and repeated, "What's the catch?"

    That's when I knew I found the right man for the job. So it's my honor to hand the keyboard over to him.

    Hi, I'm Dr. Mark Stengler, and I believe that what makes my practice unique is the fact that I don't think in terms of "alternative" and "mainstream."

    I'm not interested in playing semantics or choosing sides. As you'll see in House Calls, I'm only interested in the safest and most effective treatments for my patients -- and one of the areas where I combine the best elements of mainstream research with safe and natural alternative medicine is cholesterol control.

    It's absolutely clear to me that LDL levels are an important marker of cardiovascular health, and you do need to keep them under control -- but you don't need statins or any other drugs to get there.

    And you certainly won't need the next generation of cholesterol meds making their way to the market right now. The experimental meds, which are injected as infrequently as once a month, can slash LDL levels by almost two-thirds.

    They're called PCSK9 inhibitors because they inhibit the protein (PCSK9) that prevents the liver from pulling cholesterol out of the blood. Once that protein is blocked, the liver starts gobbling up all that LDL -- to the point where even patients who already take statins have seen reductions of 60 percent or more.

    That might sound great... but there's just one little problem here: Who on Earth needs to lower cholesterol by 60 percent anyway?

    Answer: Practically nobody.

    Mainstream targets for cholesterol have been set way too low. So low, in fact, that they're almost impossible to reach without meds. And sadly, I think that's the real goal here -- to sell more meds.

    It's certainly not for better health, because the research clearly shows that the current targets actually come with more risks than benefits.

    Since this is my first House Calls, I want to keep talking about cholesterol -- including some of those risks you'll face by bringing your levels down to meet guidelines.

  2. Brain stents kill stroke patients

    Six years ago, the feds rushed the approval of brain stents for patients facing a high risk of stroke, claiming they needed to act quickly on "compassionate" grounds.

    Today, I just have to wonder whose compassion they had in mind -- because it's certainly not those stroke patients: They began dropping dead so quickly and so often that the latest study on the stents had to be cut short.

    And instead of waiting to get the results published, the researchers quickly posted them online to help spread the word to docs around the world that this "treatment" is more like a death sentence.

    In the doomed study, researchers gave 450 patients who had suffered a stroke or stroke-like symptoms either the usual treatments to reduce risk factors or the stents, which are supposed to open narrowed arteries in the brain.

    In the first 30 days after treatment, 15 percent of the stent patients had a second stroke or died -- versus just 6 percent of those in the control group. Over the course of a year, 20.5 percent of the stent patients had a stroke or died, versus 11.5 percent of those in the control group.

    The researchers say they're still trying to figure out why the stent patients had such a dramatically higher risk of stroke and death, but does it even matter at this point?

    The risks are just way too high, and that brings us back to square one -- because there's still no surefire way to eliminate your risk of stroke, and any drug or treatment that claims otherwise is selling an empty promise.

    The best and only way to protect yourself is to focus on lifestyle changes, and not the ones your doctor has been recommending.

    He'll probably tell you that cholesterol has something to do with stroke -- even the National Stroke Association puts it high on the list, right after hypertension and atrial fibrillation. But a study earlier this year found that LDL levels were only a stroke risk factor in men when they reached the sky-high level of 350. (Read about it here.)

    Other than that, the researchers found no link at all -- so whatever you do, don't let anyone talk you into taking a statin to lower your stroke risk.

    Another blood fat, triglycerides, can boost your stroke risk -- but you don't need a drug to slash those.

    Fish oil will do the trick for you.

    Along with omega-3 fatty acids, studies have found that coffee, olive oil, and a positive outlook can all lower your risk of stroke. I've got one more coming up next -- and it's something you might be eating everyday anyway.

    Keep reading!

  3. A new look at LDL

    You've probably heard that LDL cholesterol is bad -- they even call it "bad cholesterol," and you'd have to earn a name like that, right? Well, not so fast... because despite what you've heard, your body needs its cholesterol -- even that supposed "bad" stuff.

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