Interviewer: We should all be in charge of our heart health. If we go to
the doctor, what should we insist or ask that the doctor test for?
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS: Let me, if I may, answer that just a slightly
Dr. Bowden: We should all be in charge of our health. That's been my
mission for the 20 years I've been in this field, is to empower people to
know about what they need to know about, and to be the head of their own
The Nurses' Health Study, which is the longest running epidemiological
study of diet and disease ever done. It's over 100,000 people followed for
over three decades, out of Harvard.
In the Nurses' Health Study, the research, very clear, all published, 82
percent of cardiovascular events could be prevented by adhering to five
basic principles. By the way, none of them have to do with lowering
Here are the five... regular exercise, moderate alcohol, no smoking,
maintain a healthy weight, and eat a lot of fish. Basically, if you do
those five things, you can knock out 82 percent of cardiovascular events.
It has nothing to do with cholesterol.
So, you go back to, "What do you ask your doctor"?" You certainly ask for
the Particle Test. That's number one, if you want to know anything about
cholesterol. You look at your triglycerides.
You look at inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein, and there are a
lot of others that they can check for, as well because you want to see what
kind of state your inflammation is in.
You want to see whether you have high triglycerides, what your triglyceride
to HDL ratio is 16 times better predictor than cholesterol whether you're
going to have a heart episode.
In other words, if your triglycerides are 100 and your HDL is 50, you have
a ratio of two, 100 to 50 is two. You aren't going to have a heart attack.
When that ratio starts to ease up to four or five, you're at some risk. So
you need to drop your triglycerides, because once you drop the
triglycerides, the ratio improves even if your HDL doesn't go up.
Dr. Bowden: Then, there are other tests and we talk about them in the book.
Fibrinogen, things for clotting factors, stuff like that. Basically, we've
got to get out of the idea that this is all measurable in the blood. There
are lifestyle choices that impact the heart enormously, stress being one of
them. Stress is very inflammatory.
If you buy my theory, it's not just my theory, but if you buy the theory
that I believe in, which is that inflammation is the cause of heart
disease, you would want to remove as many inflammatory substances from your
diet and from your life.
Stress is highly inflammatory. People die from stress. Stress can kill. In
the Northridge earthquake where I live in southern California they had an
earthquake in Northridge and five times as many people died on that day as
any other comparable day in history. Maybe it was a Tuesday... you go back
the year before Tuesday, the year before Tuesday... five times more.
None of them died in the earthquake. They all died from heart attacks. So,
stress can even cause death. The hormones that are released during stress
are very inflammatory. They cause lots of biochemical mischief. Reducing
stress is probably a huge factor and far more important than lowering