Heart Attacks & Cholesterol: Agribusiness Sees It Differently

Heart Attacks & Cholesterol: Agribusiness Sees It Differently
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The average “bad” cholesterol (LDL) level in people having heart attacks is in the “near-optimal” range, suggesting that the current guidelines are too lax.

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The level of LDL cholesterol in our blood—our “bad” cholesterol—may be the single most important indicator of heart disease risk, and is, therefore, the primary target of both drug and diet therapy. Your doctor will likely tell you that anything over 130 is high; anything under 130 is optimal, or near optimal. But that’s what most people hospitalized for heart attacks had circulating in their bloodstream. 

Notes one of the investigators on this study: “Almost 75 percent of heart attack patients fell within [the] recommended targets for LDL cholesterol, demonstrating that the current guidelines may not be low enough to cut heart attack risk…” Close to half had “optimal” levels, though I’m not sure their grieving spouses and orphaned children will take much comfort in that fact.

So, we have to drop our cholesterol even lower than so-called “optimal.”

The leading agribusiness publication had a very different take on this study, though: “For years, we’ve been brainwashed to think that red meat and its associated fat content are killing us. Researchers, however, have found that the vast majority of patients—75%, in fact—hospitalized for a heart attack did not have cholesterol levels that would signal a high risk for a cardiovascular event.”

He’s saying see, cut out meat, bring your cholesterol into an “optimal” range, and still die of a heart attack. “So,” he concludes, “fire up the grill, and eat up. The next time someone tells you that you just served a heart attack on a plate, you’ll be able to give them a science-based reason why they’re dead wrong”—when, in fact, you could just end up dead.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to wayne marshall / Flickr

 

The level of LDL cholesterol in our blood—our “bad” cholesterol—may be the single most important indicator of heart disease risk, and is, therefore, the primary target of both drug and diet therapy. Your doctor will likely tell you that anything over 130 is high; anything under 130 is optimal, or near optimal. But that’s what most people hospitalized for heart attacks had circulating in their bloodstream. 

Notes one of the investigators on this study: “Almost 75 percent of heart attack patients fell within [the] recommended targets for LDL cholesterol, demonstrating that the current guidelines may not be low enough to cut heart attack risk…” Close to half had “optimal” levels, though I’m not sure their grieving spouses and orphaned children will take much comfort in that fact.

So, we have to drop our cholesterol even lower than so-called “optimal.”

The leading agribusiness publication had a very different take on this study, though: “For years, we’ve been brainwashed to think that red meat and its associated fat content are killing us. Researchers, however, have found that the vast majority of patients—75%, in fact—hospitalized for a heart attack did not have cholesterol levels that would signal a high risk for a cardiovascular event.”

He’s saying see, cut out meat, bring your cholesterol into an “optimal” range, and still die of a heart attack. “So,” he concludes, “fire up the grill, and eat up. The next time someone tells you that you just served a heart attack on a plate, you’ll be able to give them a science-based reason why they’re dead wrong”—when, in fact, you could just end up dead.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to wayne marshall / Flickr

 

Doctor's Note

Be sure to check out all my other videos on heart disease and industry influence.

And check out my associated blog posts for more context: Generic Lipitor is not the answer to our heart disease epidemic, and Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

15 responses to “Heart Attacks & Cholesterol: Agribusiness Sees It Differently

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      1. Michael,

        A few comments. the study uses an amount > 1.25 ounces which seem a bit unrealistic. Their parameters are unimpressive as it would have been more of a real finding if they had looked at lipid oxidative products, vessel responsiveness or even a simple 08-DGdG test to really give us some insights.

        Although I have not read all the 24 studies, I would be curious if they also correlated the other foods present with the meals, ie. fiber, vegetables and bean intake, etc. along with type of meat and cooking styles.

        Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.Centerofhealth.com

  1. As it stands, I am not finding the presented argument on heart attacks and cholesterol to be persuasive since heart disease is multi-factorial. Therefore, there is always a non-zero probability that someone with a very low cholesterol could get a heart attack.

    So what does it prove if a study reports that some who have low cholesterol get heart attacks. It could even be that blood cholesterol level matters to a point, but then fails to matter below a certain threshold.

    Average blood cholesterol level is a useful metric to make predictions about populations, but of limited value in interpreting an individuals health. I feel we should keep this point in mind when interpreting these studies.

    1. High cholesterol and its side effects is a cause of heart attacks. This is more of a problem than in low cholesterol patients. Many people do not want to give up their meat and cheese because they are addicted to the taste, so they use excuses (‘need more protein, …calcium’ etc., …’my cholesterol is not that high…’) to justify. …or they use ‘moderation’ to continue (like an alcoholic with ‘just one drink!’). Dairy is the one food group that they cling to, because the media and some doctors are encouraging patients to eat ‘for the calcium’. Dairy intake is the quickest way to high cholesterol.

      As health advocates, it is time to accurately project the science by rejecting the notion that any animal product is healthy – meat, seafood or dairy. By acting lukewarm on the subject, the public will remain confused about what is the correct path to good health.

  2. This is extremely interesting stuff. You can read the whole agribusiness article here:

    http://fdsmagissues.feedstuffs.com/fds/PastIssues/FDS8315/fds08_8315.pdf

    The author, who seems to conclude that since were not really sure of anything, it’s best just to merrily continue stuffing ourselves with animal flesh (and for good measure he throws in a pic of a big slab of red meat for the slow-witted among us). He does though quote the bit that the current guidelines might not be low enough.

    A lot of pro-meat/anti-veg websites use information like this study (or “accepted” cholesterol guidelines) to propose that cholesterol is not really a risk factor for heart disease after all. Or, as even our agribusiness friend quoted in his article, maybe it could be that the current guidelines might not be low enough.

  3. Rain,

    I’m not sure of the optimum LDL level, but from what I’ve read, no-one in the long-running Framingham Heart Study with a total cholesterol level of 150 or below has ever had a heart attack.

  4. yeah, I have heard that too but from the chart that shows at about 30 sec in the video one can see that the average total cholesterol of hospitalized patients was 170,1 +/-48,2
    which should mean that at least some of them had it below 150…
    (one should read the actual study to be sure but at least so it looks from the chart)

  5. My mom has been eating vegan/plant-based for sox months. She has lost 15 pounds,but her cholesterol has not dropped. Any thoughts? We are confused.

    1. everyone is, nutrition science has no clue. even if blogs like this choosing the studies that fits in their agenda would like you to believe. i’ve searched the whole video archive, zero videos on kefir, yogurt, whey.. why? because there are no negative studies on those, and the positives dont fit into their agenda.

      1. daniel: re: “because there are no negative studies on those” This is not correct. All of the foods you listed are dairy foods. This site covers the problems of dairy in particular and animal protein in general – in great depth – showing just some of the many studies which show how harmful those foods are.

        as for “positives” of dairy: As Toxins points out – It’s awfully hard to find any positive. Dairy does not prevent chronic diseases – in fact the opposite is true.

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