A Little Math May Save Your Life

# A Little Math May Save Your Life

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By: Kennedy Shelley

One of my favorite coffee mugs says, “Another day and I didn’t use Algebra Again.”  But there is some basic math that can save your life.

Knowing the ratio between these two numbers from your blood test may point out your risk of heart attack better than any other test, and it doesn’t cost you a cent.

Just get your latest blood work and look for two numbers…

You need your Triglycerides and HDL (the so-called “Good Cholesterol”).

Now grab a calculator and divide the triglyceride (TG) number by the HDL number (TG)/HDL.

So, if your triglyceride level is 120 and your HDL is 40, it looks like: 120/40=3.

And the bad news is that you now know that your risk of heart attack and stroke are huge.

Anything greater than 3 is a warning that you are at high risk.  Only highly trained athletes are going to be below 1.  But the closer you can get this to 1 is best.

Dr. Jerry Reaven (MD, Stanford University) is the pioneer of the discovery of insulin resistance also figured out that metabolic syndrome is the danger signal that warns you that you are prediabetic and are at greater risk of a cardiovascular event.

He discovered the link between the TG/HDL ratio and heart disease in 1987.

This is a strong marker of lifestyle choices, for good or ill.

Some people have natural protections from heart attack and strokes.  These lucky people can eat anything and not exercise and seem to live forever.  And their TG/HDL is always close to one no matter what they do.

What was amazing about this group is they could smoke cigarettes daily and not increase their heart attack risk.

The rest of us have to work to get to a safe number and watch every risk factor including smoking.

[Note:  He was only studying heart attack risk, not cancer, which he does not have any numbers on].

While you want a low triglyceride level, just knowing that alone is not enough to predict heart health.

When your triglycerides go up, it is showing that your liver is storing more fat and sugar and it’s not functioning properly.

This also means that your liver is not producing the helpful HDL.

The technical term for this imbalance is diabetic atherogenic dyslipidemia.  This is why the TG/HDL ratio is more important than your bad cholesterol number or your total cholesterol.

This has been demonstrated since 2003 but many doctors still don’t do this simple math to warn their patients about their heart attack and stroke risk.

While we want to lower our triglycerides, that number doesn’t tell you enough until it is compared to the HDL.

That is why you need to do a little math and divide TG/HDL.

Just how good a predictor of your heart health is this?  Well in a 10-year study following people it was the only number that predicted the number of heart attacks.

This study was presented at the American College of Cardiology in 2011.  They were looking at high-risk people who were on the edge of needing heart surgery.

People who had a major risk of cardiac events (MACE), when the had a TG/HDL ratio greater than 6, 55% had a major heart attack.  Only 30% of the ratio was less than 3.

In short, this is a cheap way to find your risk of a heart attack.

There are no drugs to boost your HDL or lower your triglycerides which may be why your doctor doesn’t talk about it.  But you can take control of your risk.