Lipoprotein-A - Busting another cholesterol myth
Lp(a) is a form of LDL with an additional molecule of a sticky protein called apolipoprotein A. It also has a molecule of apolipoprotein B similar to LDL. This additional protein molecule makes Lp(a) stick to the arterial walls and cause damage and inflammation. High Lp(a) levels in blood can put you at a higher risk of heart attacks. This means simply measuring LDL cholesterol levels may not be a true indicator of the risk without Lp(a) levels reading. One can have low LDL cholesterol levels and still be at tremendous risk of getting a heart attack or stroke.
Quoting an excerpt from Linus Pauling’s last published interview: “What causes Lp(a) to stick to the wall of the artery and form these plaques?” And as discovered by biochemists and other researchers, “there is a particular amino acid in a protein in the wall of the artery - lysine - which is one of the twenty amino acids that binds the Lp(a) and causes atherosclerotic plaques to develop.” And what is amazing about this very (very) important discovery is that these receptors are only present on Lp(a), a sticky form of LDL cholesterol as we know.
Now, plaque formation is our body’s natural response to any vascular injury. If correct nutrients such as Vitamin C are present, they come to protect the blood vessel and actively participate in the repair and healing process. Vitamin C is an important precursor in the synthesis of collagen – an insoluble, fibrous protein present in the tissues of blood vessels. What happens when we don’t have enough Vitamin C? The body relies on Lp(a) which is attracted to the damaged artery site, and actually plays a lifesaving role in the absence of other important nutrients.
What is important to note here is that there is a tremendous difference between how our body uses these two materials to repair arterial damage. While Vitamin C leaves the inner lining of the arteries repaired, stronger and smooth, Lp(a) too repairs but leaves behind a trail of residual trappings that encourages further growth of plaque. Now if we give our body enough Vitamin C to repair and strengthen arteries, our body will not depend on plaster-casts to patch the arteries.
Now let’s come to another major break-through in this discovery. Since arteries have lysine binding sites that Lp(a) has receptors for, what will happen if our blood has something similar that these Lp(a) particles can attach themselves to? If we put extra lysine molecules in the blood, “They enter into competition with the lysyl residues on the wall of artery and accordingly count to prevent the lipoprotein (a) from being deposited or even will work to pull it loose and destroy the atherosclerotic plaques.”
Vitamin C, along with Lysine can help you get rid of plaque deposited in your blood vessels without having to rely on statin dugs, which bring so many side-effects and actually do not contribute towards lowering your cholesterol. These drugs don’t stop the body from making cholesterol but merely makes it harder. Really? And they do something else, thereby putting us at a further risk of developing heart disease.
Statin Drugs: Is it the right approach?
What happens when you are diagnosed with high LDL? Your doctor immediately puts you on statins. It is a class of prescription drugs that are supposed to lower high cholesterol. Do they really? Well, what statins do is that they stop the workings of an enzyme in the liver that is required to produce cholesterol. It is not stopping the body’s immune response that causes plaque formation or even reducing the risks of heart attack.
These drugs are just making it difficult for the body to produce all the cholesterol it needs to function properly. And if this requirement is not met, the body will extract it from other reservoirs rich in cholesterol, namely the brain. That is why statins can cause a decline in cognitive functions. And we are stressing our system even further when we are also cutting back on foods that can provide us with healthy cholesterol, for example eggs, avocado and coconut oil. Why not get to the root of the problem instead and reduce the factors that are causing oxidation and the resulting inflammation?
Well, there is another catch that your doctors won’t talk about. Besides interfering in the body’s production of cholesterol and hence its repair mechanism that keeps us alive, statins stop the production of CoQ10 and other important enzymes and co-enzymes that are responsible for many important biochemical reactions in the body, such as maintaining muscle functions and keeping our heart healthy. Statins also negatively impact the functioning of Vitamin K2 that plays an important role in preventing calcium to deposit in the arteries. Satins are, therefore, interfering with the body’s delicate but deliberate workings that are being carried out at the back end for our optimum health and survival.
Depletion of CoQ10 results in many negative symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness and even stimulates atherosclerosis and heart failure. Another side effect, though less common but indeed serious, is when weak and damaged muscle cells break down and release a protein called myoglobin in the blood stream. This protein can damage kidney cells and this condition, known as rhabdomyolysis, can become potentially dangerous if not treated in time.
It is important to take CoQ10 if you are on statins. In a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, researchers suggest that “coenzyme Q10 supplementation may decrease muscle pain associated with statin treatment. Thus, coenzyme Q10 supplementation may offer an alternative to stopping treatment with these drugs.”
An important note: There are some serious conditions where statin drugs may be necessary. For example, Familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disorder where the body is not able to remove the circulating LDL cholesterol from the blood. It is, therefore, very important that you speak with your doctor before stopping your medicines and finding an alternative solution to lower your cholesterol.