A cholesterol level in the normal range won’t guarantee no heart troubles

Your cholesterol is within the normal range. CONGRATULATIONS ! Officially you are less likely to die as a result of heart disease. Maybe not. Lowering cholesterol doesn’t stop heart disease deaths as much as expected.

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Lowering your cholesterol level might not stop heart disease

Yah ! Your cholesterol is within the normal range.

Maybe you’ve got there by watching your diet, maybe you’re swallowing a pill or three. Maybe a little of both.  The point is……….you’ve got there.

High fives all round.


You’re winning the war against high cholesterol

And you are not the only one…….

In fact, according to the official stats released by the American National Centre for Statistics, the war on cholesterol is BEING WON. The number of Americans with high cholesterol has been gradually falling for the past 20 years, thanks to cholesterol lowering meds. Click here to download the report.

Officially you are less likely to die as a result of heart disease.

Maybe not….

The inconvenient truth about cholesterol and heart disease

Despite all the advances in technology and the lower cholesterol levels,  in the US the number of people  dying of heart disease is still staggeringly high.

This is a bit of a disconnect…

screenshot of heart disease forgotten pandemic title

Robert duBroff and Maryanne Demasi,   pointed this out in an opinion  piece,  which was recently  published in the journal of  Preventative Medicine.

A sit-and-take notice figure

They shared this figure….

Graph tracking deaths from heart disease with number of people with high cholesterol levels

Trends in heart deaths and percentage of population with high cholesterol in the US. © 2021 Published by Elsevier Inc.

The orange line documents the fall in cholesterol levels over the last 20 years. The blue line documents the deaths from heart disease.  Initially heart deaths fell a little faster than the cholesterol numbers, probably thanks to improvements in medical care and technology, which allowed more people to survive  major cardiovascular event.

But that downward trajectory didn’t last.

The curve did a U turn around 2010. Despite the cholesterol numbers continuing the down ward trajectory,  heart deaths increased, with a big spike at the tail end.

It’s certainly a graph that will make you sit up and take notice.

A flawed graph investigated

The graph  got my attention….it is enough to suggest  there is SOMETHING not quite right with the hypothesis that cholesterol causes heart disease.

But, it’s not a GOOD graph !

The graph is a very simplistic representation of complex data. Heart deaths depend on age, so counting absolute deaths does not give you an accurate picture of what is going on.  Eish !  So I did a little more digging, to see if the story still rings true, when you actually compare apples with apples.

And it does – sort of

This graph, is from a publication looking at recent trends in cardiovascular disease deaths.

age adjusted heart disease deaths in USA and Minnesota

Trends in total cardiovascular mortality for United States and Minnesota, 2000–2018. Yearly rates per 100,000 persons have been standardized by the direct method to the age distribution of the U.S. 2010 total population. ©Manemann et al. 2021

It confirms the war against cardiovascular disease HAS NOT BEEN WON.

The data suggests mortality from all CVD subtypes has not really gone up or down in the last couple of years – technically speaking it has plateaued.

But, there have been some notable changes…

A detailed analysis of the heart disease deaths, shows deaths from  heart failure, have increased.  This is probably not unexpected, more people survive a MACE, but they are left with permanent heart damage.  A somewhat more disturbing trend, is that the mortality among  the younger age groups has  also increased.

Blame it on the obesity epidemic

These authors speculate that the rise in obesity is the reason – they’re probably right, but  fat cells are not directly to blame for the problem either. When all is said and done, these findings put a big question mark on…

The emphasis of lowering cholesterol, to protect from heart disease.

scientist burying a diseased heart with a cholesterol molecule hanging on for dear lifeAnd add to the growing body of evidence, that suggests  it’s time to put the cholesterol hypothesis of heart disease to rest, once and for all.

One swallow doesn’t make a summer

High LDL cholesterol does not clog up blood vessels, per se.

Yes, it is often higher than ideal, when you have cardiovascular health issues, but, it’s presence is a sign of trouble, not the cause of the trouble.  So  the obsession with lowering LDL cholesterol is not the solution, it may in fact in some cases it might be counter productive, because cholesterol is needed & necessary.

You need to tackle the root cause

For most people….

the driver is insulin resistance.

And it’s the driver for many cases of obesity, NOT ALL.

What is insulin resistance ?

What exactly insulin resistance is, is still up for debate. For the record – I think it is a delivery problem. But whatever the cause, the consequence is easily “seen”.  In people who are insulin resistant, their response to insulin is inappropriate.  inappropriate response to insulin

Especially at night.

Insulin levels are high : morning, noon AND NIGHT !

Insulin circulating after hours

Instead of settling in for the night, to get some shut eye, beta cells are churning out bucket fulls of insulin.  And the circulating insulin …….creates TROUBLE.

It’s  insulin that  keeps cholesterol production on 24/7.

Take aim at the real problem

So if you’ve got “high” cholesterol levels, you need to know whether you are insulin resistant and if you are…………. take aim at insulin, rather than cholesterol.

Is there a blood test to tell if you’re insulin resistant ?

Not really…………

But it does leave clues – there are the official ones and then everything else.

conditions associated with insulin resistance

Truth be told, insulin resistance is associated with most of the so called lifestyle diseases.

Are you insulin resistant ?

If you’re not sure or would like a little help, bringing your cholesterol levels down, I can help you chase down your health gremlins, so you optimize your health.  Click here to learn more about “how to work with me”.

Cholesterol 101

If you’re more a  do it yourself  person, like me, visit the cholesterol library page to dive into  more of the  cholesterol science.   The stories all come from scientific journals,  but I have done my best to make them accessible, so you don’t need a pHD to get it.

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Recent trends in cardiovascular disease deaths: a state specific perspective.  BMC Public Health (2021) 21:1031. Sheila M. Manemann, Yariv Gerber, Suzette J. Bielinski, Alanna M. Chamberlain, Karen L. Margolis, Susan A. Weston, Jill M. Killian and Véronique L. Roger.

Heart disease: The forgotten pandemic.  Preventative Med (2021) Volume 153. Robert DuBroff, Maryanne Demasi

Further reading

blood vessel torture with a blood pressure cuff

Blood vessel torture can save hearts and lives

Remote ischemic preconditioning, uses a blood pressure cuff, to deliberately cut off the blood supply – it’s cruel, but in the end, practice makes perfect

adrenaline kicking up a storm

Why tantrums and iron make a dangerous combination

Bacteria need iron to grow, so iron levels are ALWAYS kept low, except during STRESSFUL moments, when iron is made available……. bacteria come out to play

sugar stripping the glycoccalyx

 Blood vessels clog up when they become sticky

A special non-stick layer, known as the glycocalyx, prevents things from sticking to the sides of blood vessels. When it’s not there, atherosclerosis happens.


Want to discover more ways to create BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY ?