You’ve heard stories about the guy (or gal!) who seemed to be in good health. He or she exercised frequently, seemed to eat right, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink to excess. Yet, one day, to everyone’s surprise, that person had a serious, perhaps fatal, heart attack. You wondered how could that happen to someone who appeared to be in pretty good health? I’d like to tell you about some new tests that can predict why some people are at higher risk than others and what you can do to lower your risk.
Myeloperoxidase – A Little Enzyme with Big Heart Health Stakes
Although it’s been known to cardiac researchers for a few years now, the cardiac marker for myeloperoxidase – MPO – is becoming a more common blood test across the country. It is thought by researchers that MPO levels can predict whether someone might be a candidate for a serious heart attack as soon as 1 to 6 months – or as late as several years – with 95% accuracy. Testing for MPO levels could alert doctors to the need for immediate surgical intervention – like angioplasty and stenting – or if aggressive diet changes, medications and/or supplements, exercise regimen, could be all that’s needed to avert the risk.
First, let me explain what this big word – myeloperoxidase – is and what it does. MPO is a protein enzyme by product of white blood cells (leukocytes) that acts as a harmful free radical in your body. It oxidizes LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. This oxidized LDL then attaches itself to arterial walls forming hardened fatty plaques with surrounding inflammation. These plaques can then build up to a point where they form a blockage that prevents blood flow to the heart or brain resulting in a serious, perhaps fatal, heart attack or stroke.
High MPO levels can mean that you may have a significant amount of plaque build up in your coronary arteries. Together with another elevated cardiac marker – C-reactive protein (CRP) – that tells how much inflammation is present, and homocysteine – another cardiac protein enzyme – the likelihood of you having a serious heart attack or stroke could be pretty high.
What Can You Do To Lower Your Risk?
There are several natural things you can do to lower MPO, as well as CRP and homocysteine. They include:
1. Melatonin. In addition to being a sleep aid, melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that scavenges and inactivates dangerous myeloperoxidase better than other antioxidants. In a recent study out of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, Melatonin Is a Potent Inhibitor for Myeloperoxidase (Biochemistry, 2008, 47 (8), pp 2668–2677 DOI: 10.1021/bi702016q), melatonin was found to be an inhibitor of MPO by binding to it causing it to become inactive. Researchers concluded that melatonin represents a new and unique means to control MPO and its inflammatory pathways. Everyone becomes deficient in melatonin as they get older starting around age 40. However, as melatonin is a hormone, more is not better. Take only the specific amount for your age, unless directed by your doctor. For ages 40-44, 0.5 to 1 mg; 45-54 1-2 mg, 55-64, 2 to 2.5 mg; 65 to 74, 2.5 to 5 mg, 75 and over, 3.5 to 5 mg.
2. Omega-3 fish/krill oils. 2,000 mg a day helps lower LDL cholesterol and prevent it’s oxidation by dangerous free radicals like MPO and others.
3. B vitamins. Including niacin and folic acid. Niacin reduces cholesterol and folic acid 1 mg helps lower homocysteine levels.
5. Antioxidants. Vitamin C, E, selenium, carnosine, alpha lipoic acid, Vitamin D3, flavonoids (from apples, apricots, blueberries, cocoa, pears, raspberries, strawberries, black beans, cabbage, onions, parsley, pinto beans, and tomatoes) all act as powerful antioxidants that scavenge free radicals in your body that cause disease.
Your Waist Size Can Predict A Heart Attack – How to Decrease It
Though I’ve been telling my patients about this for a few years now, recent research from Weill Medical College of New York’s Cornell University (Central obesity as measured by waist circumference is predictive of severity of lower urinary tract symptoms. BJU International, 2012; 110 (4): 540 DOI: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2011.10819), has proven that a large waist size can also predict a man’s risk for urinary problems as well as heart attack.
In men, a waist greater than 39 inches – in women 36 inches – indicates the likelihood of a condition called metabolic syndrome. This is where your body does not utilize insulin properly and stockpiles fat around your abdomen. In addition, dangerous inflammation forms around your internal organs. Many people with metabolic syndrome go on to develop type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, prostate disease, and more.
What Can You Do?
Belly fat, especially as you get older, is more and more common. I tell my own patients that in order to get rid of it, and lower their risk for heart and other diseases, they have to control the amount of sugar in their diet. A low glycemic index diet, consisting of very low sugar (must read labels), will help normalize insulin secretion and stop storing belly fat. Aerobic exercise 30 minutes a day as well as resistance training with weights will also help. Spices like cinnamon and turmeric, supplements like green coffee extract and raspberry ketones can also help normalize insulin output and decrease belly fat.
I always tell my patient’s that it’s good to know their baseline levels for certain tests like MPO, CRP and homocysteine. Although lab tests are not perfect and may have false results that require repeating, they could help save your life. Ask your doctor about having these tests soon to lower your risk of a fatal heart attack.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News
Myeloperoxidase (MPO) and CRP as Predictive Factors For Myocardial Infarction, http://www.cli-online.com/uploads/tx_ttproducts/datasheet/myeloperoxidase-(mpo)-and-hs-crp-as-predictive-factors-for-myocardial-infarction.pdf
Test for Imminent Heart Attackes – Cardiologists Discover New Enzyme that Predicts Risk for Heart Attack, http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2005/0812-test_for_imminent_heart_attacks.htm
Melatonin Is a Potent Inhibitor for Myeloperoxidase, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/bi702016q
photo credit: ohioinjurylaw.com