Ronald Grisanti D.C., D.A.B.C.O., DACBN, MS, CFMP
For most people cholesterol has been considered the cardiovascular lab test to monitor to access your risk of a cardiovascular event. However, increased cholesterol levels were found in less than 50% of all heart attack and stroke victims.
Researchers at the World Health Organization published a study which pointed to an overlooked risk factor that seemed to account for the other half.
It was a blood marker known as fibrinogen.
Now, to understand just how dangerous excess levels of this blood marker can be we must first look at how it works in your bloodstream.
Fibrinogen is a protein produced by the liver and in small quantities is an absolute vital component for survival. When you cut or scrape your skin, fibrinogen is the agent which causes the blood to thicken and eventually create a scab which clots the wound altogether. It also works in your arteries by creating small clotting agents that patch up cracks and crevices from inflammation.
The problem begins when levels of fibrinogen become elevated. When this occurs, instead of creating a small clot to repair the arterial damage, the fibrinogen begins to create an adverse event by creating a much larger clot than is needed. These oversized clots can grow to the point where they close off veins, blood vessels or major arteries entirely and cause heart attacks and stroke.
A Harvard University Study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that “Those with high fibrinogen levels had a twofold increase in myocardial infarction (heart attack) risk.”
And still another study published in the prestigious Royal College of General Practitioners found that when coupled with other heart-health risk factors such as cholesterol and high blood pressure, “incidence of heart attacks was respectively six times and 12 times greater in those with high plasma fibrinogen levels than in those with low fibrinogen levels.”
In other words, even if you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure you’re respectively 600% and 1200% less likely to suffer a heart attack if your fibrinogen levels are in line!
Assessing your risk
Your levels of fibrinogen can be easily tested by any doctor simply by asking for what’s called a fibrinogen activity test.
I like to see my patients’ fibrinogen levels under 300 mg/dl. If your levels are lower, I’d continue to get your levels tested around twice a year. If higher, you should get your levels tested every three months.
How to Lower Your Fibrinogen Levels
- Follow a strict Mediterranean diet
- Consume foods high in omega 3 (EPA and DHA) I recommend taking a supplement with between 2-3 grams per day. The following foods are rich in Omega 3’s such as wild salmon, mackerel and sardines and avocados. Also eat plenty of nuts and seeds such as macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, and flaxseeds. And use macadamia nut oil, estate-bottled olive oil, and avocado oil.
- Take Nattokinase and Serratiopeptidase
Word of Caution.
Always check with your physician if you are on blood thinning medication which increases your risk for bleeding episodes.