Myths and Misconceptions about Cholesterol and Heart Health - Integrative Cardiologist, Dr Ross Walker
Renowned Integrative Cardiologist Dr Ross Walker believes all heart disease is genetic and explains what this means in the latest Eagle Natural Health Expert Voice podcast. “If you have the genes, then bad lifestyle will bring out the condition,” he says.(1)
A study in the Netherlands, the MORGEN study, showed that people who practiced a healthy diet and lifestyle, which includes happiness, had an 83% reduction in cardiovascular disease.(2)
With over 35 years in practice, Dr Walker has earned a reputation for building awareness of the impact of a healthy lifestyle in heart disease prevention, especially important for those with genetic predispositions.
According to Dr Walker “70% of heart disease is directly related to the insulin-resistant gene; 20% to lipoprotein(a) which occurs in one in five people; and 10% to less common conditions, such as familial hyperlipidaemia”.(1)
Ischaemic heart disease (IHD) is still the leading cause of death in Australia (3), with cardiovascular diseases (CVD) remaining a major cause of death and disease burden.(4) This is despite significant decreases in IHD and declines in deaths from heart disease for more than 50 years (5), attributed to increased awareness of heart health issues and proactive management of risks.(6)
IHD is the most common form of heart disease, with the underlying cause of atherosclerosis reducing blood supply to the heart muscle.(6). The accepted predisposing factors of atherosclerosis include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, poor diet and lack of exercise.(6) But it’s not as simple as ‘high’ or ‘low’ cholesterol, “Everyone thinks that LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is bad and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is good. That is complete nonsense.”(1)
“LDL and HDL are divided into small bits and large bits, and this is where size is important” explains Dr Walker. “The small bits are bad. The large bits are good. Small LDL is the portion of the LDL that is easily oxidized by free radicals and get into your arteries. Large LDL is vital for the production of healthy cell membranes, healthy cell metabolism, steroid metabolism, bile salt metabolism, and vitamin D metabolism. We need large LDL.”(1)
Dr Walker recommends a coronary calcium score, which involves having a CT scan, rather than a blood test, as the best way to detect early heart disease.(1)
Top tips from Dr Walker for managing cardiovascular health are(1):
- A healthy, natural-based diet:
- Based on a Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits and vegetables
- 10 to 15 nuts per day
- Avoid processed foods including refined carbohydrates and trans fatty acids
- Avoid cholesterol-lowering margarine
- Coronary calcium score assessment for all males at 50 years old and females at 60 years old
- Consider supplementation:
- Multivitamins and omega-3 supplementation for those over 30 years old.
- CoQ10 for 20 and 30 year olds. Ubiquinol, the active form of CoQ10 for older people.
- Other targeted supplements such as magnesium orotate, garlic, bergamot polyphenolic fraction, Vitamin K2
- Exercise: Three to five hours every week of moderate exercise.
- Ensure good quality sleep. Seven to eight hours per night of good quality sleep.
- Remove unhealthy addictions. Being healthy isn’t possible if people are addicted to alcohol, recreational drugs or smoking.
To learn more about tips for managing cardiovascular health and the Five Keys of Being Healthy based on the MORGEN study (2), download the Expert Voice podcast on your preferred listening app such as Apple Podcasts.
The Expert Voice podcast series is designed to help natural healthcare practitioners remain at the cutting edge of the ever-evolving nutritional therapies industry. The series covers topics across lifestyle and nutrition, stress and toxicity, healthy ageing, gut health, mental health, and more. It focuses on the role of nutritional supplementation in helping both healthcare practitioners and their patients on the journey to achieving and maintaining good health.
- Eagle Natural Health, Eagle Natural Health Expert Voice Podcast with Dr Ross Walker.
- Kershaw, K. N., et al. Quantifying the contributions of behavioral and biological risk factors to socioeconomic disparities in coronary heart disease incidence: The MORGEN study. (2013), European Journal of Epidemiology. Vol. 28.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3303.0 - Causes of Death, Australia, (2018). [Online] 25/9/2019. [Cited: 3/10/2019] https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/47E19CA15036B04BCA2577570014668B?Opendocument.
- Heart Foundation Australia . Cardiovascular disease fact sheet. [Online] [Cited: 3/10/2019] https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/about-us/what-we-do/heart-disease-in-australia/cardiovascular-disease-fact-sheet.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics, 3303.0.55.003 - Changing Patterns of Mortality in Australia, 1968-2017. [Online] 30/11/2018. [Cited: 3/10/2019] www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3303.0.55.003Main+Features11968-2017?OpenDocument.
- Australian Bureau of Stastics. 3303.0.55.003 - Changing Patterns of Mortality in Australia, 1968-2017 Fifty years of cardiovascular mortality. [Online] 30/11/2018. [Cited: 3/10/2019] https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/3303.0.55.003~1968-2017~Main%20Features~Fifty%20Years%20of%20Cardiovascular%20Mortality~2.