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Posts Tagged ‘Heart Disease’

Vytorin to lower cholesterol

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on September 7, 2008

A reader from The Heart of Health is treating high cholesterol with Vytorin. The medication Vytorin is a combination of the statin drug Zocor and the cholesterol lowering drug Zetia. The two drugs differ in that statins function mainly in the liver to reduce production of cholesterol, while Zetia works in the digestive tract to block the absorption of cholesterol from food.

Vytorin is in the press right now, because of a possible link to increased cancer risk.  Studies including 20,000 patients compared cancer in those treated with Vytorin (313) to those taking a Zocor/statin drug (326).   Actual cancer deaths were greater in those taking Vytorin (97) versus Zocor (72).  From my perspective, that is not a significant difference; however, there are experts that agree with me and experts that disagree.

Anyway, The Heart of Health reader requested my thoughts.

First, absolutely discuss with your MD the best treatment for you. I would discuss the possibility of a statin lowering drug with proven effectiveness/safety as an alternative until the controversy regarding Vytorin is settled. Also, there is debate surrounding the effectiveness of Zetia at preventing heart disease.

Of course, I do not know your personal situation and if you have tried a statin with poor results in the past.

Anytime you have to take a medication, there is the risk of side effects.  Many times it’s simply a matter of weighing the pros and cons and deciding how much risk you’re willing to take.

Of course, I promote making lifestyle and diet changes to lower cholesterol to eliminate the need for medications or at least reduce the amount of medication needed to treat your condition. 

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All the best,

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN


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Brown rice – New whole grain health claim.

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on August 26, 2008

I’ve always recommended clients make a switch from white rice to brown rice as a way to boost dietary fiber intake.  A diet high in dietary fiber (ideally 25-35 grams/day) is linked with reduced heart disease risk by lowering LDL and total cholesterol levels.

The FDA just approved a new ruling that will allow brown rice to use a health claim on its label.  So, when you’re shopping for groceries, be on the look out for the new whole-grain logo added to the brown rice packaging and don’t forget to reach for the brown rice over the white!  A 1/2 cup of cooked  brown rice contains two grams of fiber.

Brown rice takes extra time to prepare (~45 minutes).  I checked out the nutrition label on brown “minute” rice recently and it’s another option, still providing 2 grams of dietary fiber per 1/2 cup serving.  Best of all, only takes ~10 minutes to prepare.  Haven’t tried it yet, so can’t vouch for its flavor, but I have added it to my shopping list.

All the best,

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
The Heart of Health

Posted in food, heart health, lower cholesterol | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Does sleep apnea increase your heart attack risk?

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on July 4, 2008

This is another question I was asked recently. Here’s the answer:

Sleep apnea increases your risk for high blood pressure, which then increases your risk of heart disease, which then increases your heart attack risk.  A vicious chain of events!

The quickest and easiest way to know if sleep apnea is causing your blood pressure to rise is to check your blood pressure when you wake up in the morning and compare it to a blood pressure reading later in the day.  Discuss what you learn with your MD.

All the best,

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
Control Blood Pressure

P.S.  Don’t forget to get your FREE report “Stop Wasting Money – Take Control of Your Health” when you subscribe to The Heart of Health ezine!

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Do I need to be concerned about high HDL levels?

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on June 22, 2008

My LDL is 50, my HDL is 160 and my triglycerides 90.  Do I need to be concerned about my high HDL levels?

The above question is one I recently answered for a visitor to The Health Central Network.  I thought readers of this blog may be interested in the answer as well, so here it is. 

HDL is the good cholesterol and does not contribute to arterial plaque that leads to heart disease.  HDL actually does the opposite and reduces the plaque lining your artery walls.  A high level is a good thing and reduces your heart disease risk.  If taking medications, speak with your MD to double check whether your medication is playing a role.

With an HDL of 160, your total cholesterol is going to be over 200.  However, the high HDL level negates the negative of a total over 200.  You are doing fine, keep up the good work!

All the best,

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN

Lower Cholesterol


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