Summer Apple Girl
Creative Commons License photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography
Dr. Mark A. Brudnak

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is caused by a narrowing of the coronary arteries that feed the heart. It’s the most common form of heart disease, affecting some 7 million Americans, and it’s also the number-one killer of both men and women. Each year, more than 500,000 Americans die of heart attacks caused by CHD.

Many of these deaths could be prevented because CHD is related to certain aspects of lifestyle. Some of the risk factors for CHD, or things that increase your risk of developing the disease, are high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, and stress. All of which can be controlled. On average, having high blood pressure, having high blood cholesterol, or being a smoker doubles your chance of developing heart disease. Therefore, a person who has all three of these risk factors is eight times more likely to develop heart disease than someone who has none. Also consider that being overweight increases the likelihood of developing high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure, and being physically inactive increases the risk of heart attack.

We hear a lot of talk about the different types of cholesterol, and a number of abbreviations are thrown around, such as HDL (high-density lipoprotein), LDL (low-density lipoprotein), and HDL/LDL (which is simply the ratio of the two). This is all a lot easier than it sounds. What’s important to remember is that the HDLs are the good cholesterol and the LDLs are the bad cholesterol. The bad ones are those that will clog up your arteries, making them hard and constricted.

That is really the crux of the problem. Once flexibility is lost in the arteries, the blood pressure goes up and the optimal levels of blood and other nutrients cannot reach the various parts of the body-including the hardest working muscle of the body, the heart.

Changing your diet to one that is low in fat, especially saturated fat, and low in cholesterol will help reduce your level of blood cholesterol, a primary cause of atherosclerosis. In fact, it’s even more important to keep blood cholesterol low after having a heart attack in order to help lower the risk of having another one. Eating less fat should also help you lose weight, and if you are overweight, losing weight can help lower your blood cholesterol. Losing weight is also the most effective lifestyle change you can make to reduce high blood pressure, another risk factor for atherosclerosis and heart disease.

If making lifestyle changes was enough to prevent or control CHD, then medications would never be used. Diet changes, in particular, have been the traditional remedy for bad or high cholesterol, and while diet can make a difference, it doesn’t always take care of the situation. The body has the ability to produce its own cholesterol and to do that in rather high amounts when needed. This is a problem for someone who’s trying to control his or her cholesterol level by diet modification alone.

Taking probiotics has only recently been considered as a means of controlling cholesterol.

What scientists found in the probiotic studies on cholesterol was that when very high doses were used-well over 100 billion live organisms per dose-there was a reduction in blood cholesterol. Even more important, an increase in the ratio of HDL to LDL was observed. And the higher the HDL compared to the LDL, the higher the ratio.

Why is this important? If the LDLs are clogging things up, think of the HDLs as cleaning things out. As mentioned earlier, think of the LDLs as being like little Legos, with connectors that allow multiple cholesterol molecules to bind to each other. The LDLs collect in the arteries and build on one another, slowly clogging things up. The HDLs, on the other hand, are like Legos without connectors. Also, since the HDLs can’t bind to other things, they have a kind of “bowling ball” effect and knock out the LDLs from wherever they are grouping. So, if there are many more HDLs in comparison to LDLs, then fewer LDLs will be able to build up. Remember, the HDLs and the LDLs combine (numerically, not physically) to form the number that’s called total cholesterol.

We see good results when high doses of probiotics are used. We also see good results when low doses of some of the more acid- and bile-resistant organisms are used. The LR probiotic has been shown to be very acid and bile resistant. It can survive the journey into the intestines, where it can start pumping away on the bile and deconjugating it, resulting in the excretion of the bile. LR has been observed to produce a 38 percent decrease in total cholesterol.

This is stunning, given the so-called one-to-two rule, which states that a 1 percent reduction of blood cholesterol causes a 2 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease. Remember, we’re talking about a 38 percent reduction in cholesterol here, so that means that taking LR probiotics can give you at least a 76 percent lower risk of CHD. That is huge!

These beneficial effects can be achieved not only by taking high levels of probiotics but also by taking lower levels of some select strains. There are probably many different variants of each strain, each more or less acid and bile tolerant. What you should look for are products that use strains selected by the best technology available, such as DNA fingerprinting and cell-wall structure analysis.

Anyone who is concerned about getting CHD will want to take probiotics. Taking probiotics as part of a healthy diet has been proven to have positive effects on CHD and other related conditions.

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