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A recent international study published in the highest ranking cardiovascular journal in the world confirms what we’ve been saying at GreenMedInfo for over a decade: LDL cholesterol is not an accurate predictor of future cardiovascular events and is not a good indicator of the underlying causes of heart disease -- the implication of which is statin drugs are useless at best, and cardiotoxic at worst.
Published in European Heart Journal and titled, “Development and validation of a ceramide- and phospholipid-based cardiovascular risk estimation score for coronary artery disease patients," the study sought to identify whether LDL-cholesterol or a new class of blood lipids known as ceramide lipids are best in predicting heart attack risk in coronary heart disease (CHD) patients.
The study found that despite assumptions that all CHD patients have equivalent cardiovascular disease risk, the 10-year cardiovascular disease risk of a CHD patient varies from 5% to over 20%.
Presently, the primary tool used to identify cardiovascular disease risk, and to reduce it, is LDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol suppressing drugs, respectively.
Despite this, LDL cholesterol was not found to be effective in identifying who are the more high risk patients for cardiovascular death or heart attack:
"[T]he most critical biomarker in the cardiovascular field, LDL-C, showed a very weak association in predicting outcomes. While LDL-C plays a central role in the aetiology of atherosclerosis, its value as a biomarker in secondary prevention appears limited across all studies."
Ceramide lipid diagnostic tests are relatively new, and the study used a system created by Zora Biosciences Oy, a Finnish diagnostic company, known as CERT:
“CERT (Cardiovascular Event Risk Test) that identifies the risk of heart attack more accurately than LDL-cholesterol or LDL-cholesterol based measurements. CERT enables patient stratification into risk groups more accurately than the currently used lipid tests, and provides an enhanced tool for capturing the risk. CERT, and its latest version CERT2, is a blood test that measures ceramide lipids by mass spectrometry. Plasma ceramides represent the next generation of clinical predictors for adverse cardiovascular events resulting from unstable atherosclerotic plaques. Ceramides are bioactive lipids that play a central role in cell membrane integrity, cellular stress response, inflammation, and cell death.” [Source]
Given the fact that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, misidentifying LDL cholesterol as the primary cause of heart disease, and then promoting LDL cholesterol suppression therapies like statin drugs as a solution, is a tragic mistake. Especially given that statin drugs have over 300 adverse effects that have been identified in the biomedical literature, including profound cardiotoxicity.
Also, ceramide-based tests are especially interesting from a nutritional perspective. Two out of three phosopholipids selected in the CERT2 test contained Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The authors of the study noted that,
"Both DPA (22:5) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6) belong to the omega3 (n − 3) fatty acid series, which may have several positive CHD-related effects, such as anti-thrombotic and anti-inflammatory effects, in addition to influencing overall lipid metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, and endothelial function."
The study, therefore, indicates that certain dietary practices, such as the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, may positively contribute towards ceramide profiles indicative of lower cardiovascular disease risk, as identified through the CERT2 risk statification test. Given the robust literature on the therapeutic benefit of fish oil (one of the only sources of DHA in the human diet today) for cardiovascular health, could this indicate fish oil may provide an natural alternative to statin drugs? Interestingly, we've reported previously on how statin drugs may actually interfere with the cardiotherapeutic properties of fish oil, as well as how statin drug manufacturers like Pfizer have funded studies attempting to discredit fish oil's heart benefits. Given the latest research, and the well-known problems with the statin-based approach to preventing heart disease, one thing is true, if LDL cholesterol is not an accurate surrogate marker of cardiovascular disease risk, then the conventional statin-based standard of care is no longer supported by the scientific evidence.
For more research on the cholesterol myth, and the problem with statin drugs, view the following articles:
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