A Daughter’s Journey to Help Save her Mother’s Life

August 10, 2012 – July 2008 was unlike any summer month I had ever experienced. After agonizing for almost four long weeks, I was being rushed into emergency surgery from the Hospital’s ER with the diagnosis of an aggravated hernia. I didn’t realize it at the time, but recovering in a hospital was the least of my worries.

My mother, sister, and boyfriend had all been to visit me in the ICU, but there was one visitor missing.  Hours passed before I discovered who my next ICU visitor was . . . the Kankakee County Coroner’s office??? My hospital room was the last number dialed on my father’s cell phone, which emergency workers fished from a car wreck boiling down the last memories of my father to a voice heard over a 2 minute phone call.  He was calling to say that he was driving down to see me and visit his grandchildren. That phone call would be the last time I would speak to my father – EVER.

The Daily Journal reported “the driver [being] southbound on I-57 near the Bradley-Bourbonnais interchange at 12:09 p.m. when the vehicle crossed the median strip, crossed the northbound lanes, ran through a fence and hit a crane” (“Two Killed…” 2008).

Later, it was revealed that what took the life of my father was not the accident itself, but what transpired seconds before the accident took place.  Charles J., 57, suffered a heart attack that caused him to lose control of his vehicle (Byrns 2008).   Yes, a HEART ATTACK!  The coroner’s prognosis completely blind-sided our family. And yes, we knew for years that our father was not a true picture of health.  However, there was never any indication of heart disease, other than knowing that his father had died of a heart attack at the golden age of 50. My father’s primary cause of death, as indicated on his death certificate, was Atherosclerosis.  I learned that you could develop this condition due to: elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking.

Last month marked, the 4th “angel-versary”, of my father’s horrific passing from Coronary Heart Disease.  When I landed a job working at FutureCeuticals Direct in 2011, and found out that they were on the brink of expanding the distribution of their heart-health product, Nutrim, which helps lower cholesterol naturally; I knew this had to be a sign from above.  With one parent gone, I only have one left—my mother.  This weekly video series will document a Nutrim–beginner’s journey–starring my mother, Cecile.

To listen to Cecile’s story, watch below.

Video Highlights:
Name:  Cecile
Gender: Female  Age: 58
Marital Status:  Widowed (4 years)
Occupation:  Nurse, (30 years)
Youngest of 5 siblings (1 male, 4 females)
Cholesterol Total: 265; LDL:183; HDL: 61
Gained 22 lbs over past year; weighs 220.

Family History: 
Mother died at age 57 – suffered from chronic hypertension– issues with cholesterol unknown.
Father at age 79 – died of massive heart attack with no prior heart conditions known.
1 Brother; age: 65- 2 yrs ago suffered a 5 bypass coronary; 90% occluded due to high cholesterol.
1 Sister; age: 62 currently suffering from chronic hypertension on-going for the past 20 years and has a history of high cholesterol.

 Cecile’s Personal Goals while taking Nutrim: lower cholesterol naturally, lose weight, gain energy, avoid side effects and be able to live a long life without taking prescription meds.

Citation:
“Two Killed in Interstate 57 Crash.” E-Editions. Daily Journal, 1 Aug. 2008. Web. 25 July 2012. <http://daily-journal.com/archives/dj/display.php?id=424991>.
Byrns, Bill. “Grassy Medians Meant to Contain Accidents Have a Fatal Flaw.” E-Editions. Daily Journal, 6 Sept. 2008. Web. 25 July 2012. <http://daily-journal.com/archives/dj/display.php?id=424991>.

What Do My Cholesterol Numbers Mean?

So you came back from the doctors office with a page full of numbers and you are trying to make some sense of them.  I am going to try to give a simple breakdown of the main components of the number on a cholesterol blood test.  Hopefully, by the end of this post you’re a little closer to understanding what all of those numbers mean.

Total Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a substance that has many beneficial functions in the body.  When too much is consumed or produced by the body and not enough is removed you can end up with excessive amounts.  Cholesterol can build up in the arteries and cut off blood supply to the heart and other areas of the body.  Having healthy cholesterol levels has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. 

LDL Cholesterol

LDL (low density lipoprotein) is a combination of fat (lipid) and protein. LDL is a carrier for fat and cholesterol. It takes fat and cholesterol from the liver and transports it through the bloodstream. It eventually drops of the fat and cholesterol off at the cells to be utilized. High levels of LDL cholesterol are a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.  The LDL cholesterol number is the main therapeutic target for intervention.  All of the other numbers on your blood test determine what approach the doctor will take in lowering LDL cholesterol.

HDL Cholesterol

HDL runs opposite LDL and carries fat and cholesterol from the cells, through the bloodstream, and to the liver to be metabolized or excreted. Low levels of HDL in the blood are an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease.  High levels of HDL protect the heart by carrying away cholesterol that could build up in the walls of the arteries. 

Triglycerides

Triglyceride is a term that describes a common way fat is found in the body. Triglycerides are three fat molecules attached to another molecule called glycerol. Generally, when the term triglycerides is used in your doctor’s office it refers to the amount of fat found in the blood. There is an association between high triglyceride levels and coronary heart disease.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heart-disease/HB00016

http://www.americanheart.org/downloadable/heart/110141046508901%20CholLevls.pdf

How Does Too Much Sugar Affect Heart Disease?

Sugar and Insulin

When we eat sugar it is absorbed into the body and makes its way to the bloodstream. The bloodstream then carries the sugar to the cells of the body. When a large amount of sugar is in the bloodstream, the body releases a large amount of insulin. This insulin drives sugar into the cells to be utilized for energy. After a long time of exposure to sugar the cells may become “resistant” to insulin.

The Effects of Sugar

If the cells do not accept insulin, sugar can build up in the bloodstream. High levels of sugar in the bloodstream are toxic to the body. High blood sugar will make changes in the body that make it more difficult for the arteries to open up and can increase the rate at which blood clots.

Sugar will also begin to combine with other substances in the blood, like protein and LDL cholesterol.
When sugar combines with proteins in the walls of the arteries, it can make the arteries more susceptible to atherosclerosis.

Blood Sugar and Your Cholesterol

If sugar combines with LDL cholesterol, it can cause it to become oxidized more easily. Oxidized LDL is much more dangerous than regular LDL and is more likely to build up in the arteries and cause atherosclerosis. LDL levels in diabetics are not that different from nondiabetics, but this oxidized form of LDL can play a greater role in the progression of heart disease.

Diabetics, those that have chronic high blood sugar, also tend to have low HDL “good” cholesterol and high triglycerides. 

Keeping Healthy

Part of the strategy to control your risk for heart disease should involve a restriction of foods that can spike blood sugar levels. We know candy, pop, and pasteries are not good for blood sugar, but refined flours can also have a negative effect on blood sugar. There are also many sources of hidden sugar in foods so make sure to check your labels.

So, You Just Found Out You Have High LDL Cholesterol

Understand the Importance of LDL Cholesterol

If you know someone who has suffered a heart attack or stroke, then the words “You have high LDL cholesterol” from your doctor may have some meaning to you. For the rest of us, the words “high cholesterol” may not conjure up many thoughts or images. Even if you know what cholesterol does in the body, it may not be self evident why high LDL cholesterol should be concerning. While having high cholesterol may not be a death sentence or a guarantee that we will be on medications for the rest of our lives, it does merit concern.

High cholesterol levels can lead to atherosclerosis, which in turn can lead to heart attack and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the number 1 and number 3 causes of death in America. Heart attacks and stroke can cause some major problems to survivors, as well.  The aftermath can range from small debilitation, to major impairment, to death.

The Positive Power of Oats

All that being said, it is important to remember that atherosclerosis is a progressive state and needs to be addressed by consistent long term changes. There are many lifestyle and diet changes that are recommended to help stop your cholesterol from continuing to rise.  There are also a number of options that can be beneficial for lowering cholesterol. One of the main dietary changes being proclaimed today is the incorporation of soluble fiber from oats to the diet.

In clinical studies soluble fiber from whole oat products has been shown to lower cholesterol. The National Cholesterol Education Program wrote an authoritative document on cholesterol (ATP III).  It recommends dietary changes such as incorporating soluble fiber from oats, lower saturated fat intake and lower cholesterol intake.  It also covers weight management, medication, and other approaches to lowering cholesterol. This document covers a number of other dietary and lifestyle changes that are important to the high cholesterol issue.

Know the Facts

Becoming informed should be your first step in addressing high LDL cholesterol. Ask your doctor for all the information they have available to them.  Also ask about how you can influence your cholesterol through diet and lifestyle choices. Become familiar with organizations like the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program. We will also be diligent researchers and provide you with information that is both practical and accurate to help you on your journey to lower LDL cholesterol levels.  It’s our promise to do our best to keep you informed and to help you continue to live a full life, even after cholesterol test results.

Introduction to Cholesterol

The Ugly Truth

Many people are aware that heart disease is the number one killer in America.  Unfortunately, many do not realize that according to the World Health Organization at least 80% of premature deaths from cardiovascular heart disease and stroke could be prevented.  A healthy diet, regular physical activity and avoiding the use of tobacco are all steps in the right direction.  If you have found out you have high cholesterol and want to lower it naturally, you’re not alone.

The Natural Choice

Many people are using natural means to lower their cholesterol.  Sometimes we just need some help.  Help along the way to encourage us, answer confusing questions, and meet us where we are at.  The family here at Oathealth has walked alongside many extraordinary people that have had dramatic results in improving their health and lowering their cholesterol.

Know Both Sides of the Story

We agree with the most athoritative document on cholesterol in the US (ATP III).  It recommends dietary and lifestyle changes as a first line approach to high cholesterol.  Unfortunately, we’ve noticed that the money spent in support of a natural approach isn’t level with the amount spent promoting synthetic medication. Cholesterol medication advertisements are all over the media.  You hardly ever see ads encouraging adults to pass on an extra serving of beef or to walk a mile.  The natural approach is usually overlooked.  We want to offer some balance.

We Want You to Succeed!

At Oathealth.com we spend a lot of time pouring over research and authoritative documents.  The goal is to stay up-to-date, to make sure you offer you the best service  We want you to share in the insight we get from all the information available.  We want to simplify the information and terms associated with heart disease so it is in a language everyone can understand.  We want to equip you with information for your cholesterol lowering jouney.  The Oathealth.com Heart Health Blog has been created to make that easier.  This blog is our newest tool to stay connected to you.  We want you to succeed.  We want you to enjoy your meals without hurting your heart.  We want you to live your life to the fullest.  Hopefully, this blog can be just one more tool that helps bring you closer.

Physical Activity Can Actually Impact Cholesterol/Health

Getting Active

I was thinking about exercise today. Whenever I talk to customers about exercise, they get a little hesitant. Once I explain how exercise and being a gym-rat don’t go hand in hand, there’s a sigh of relief. Heart-healthy exercise can actually be quite fun and can fit into most people’s schedules.  Even small amounts of exercise, like doing every day things, can produce significant changes in your cholesterol score.

I thought it might be helpful to give you a primer of some of the things that exercise can do:


Decrease risk of…

Beneficial for…

Exercise Increases…

  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Cancer
  • Cholesterol and Triglyceride levels
  • Low Thyroid Function
  • Healthy Pregnancy
  • Menopausal Symptoms
  • Immune Function
  • Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia
  • Insomnia
  • Circulation
  • Fat burning
  • Energy levels
  • Strength
  • Joint Stability
  • Range of Motion
  • Brain function
  • Mood
  • Self-image


Look, if there was a pill I could sell that helped cholesterol without exercise I would be a millionaire.  (Scratch that — billionaire.)  Fact is, there are companies out there who try to sell do-everything pills. But there’s no magic fix. Changes to your diet and exercise are what helps the mo,t. Even if you’re required by your doctor to take medication, you’ll still need to make exercise part of your life style change.


Exercise Makes a Difference in Lowering Cholesterol…It Can Be Easy!

From the chart above you can see lowering cholesterol is just one of many results exercising can produce. Even more important is to realize every day activities can produce calorie-burning, cholesterol-lowering results. Here’s some suggestions…Try these for 30 to 45 minutes every other day to get your heart rate going.  Some of your options can actually be quite enjoyable.  Exercise can be fun, and you’re likely to see results pretty quickly.

  • Walking the neighborhood
  • Walking the local indoor shopping mall (great tip for cold months)
  • Gardening
  • Raking Leaves
  • Stairwalking
  • Jogging 1 mile
  • Swimming
  • Fast Dancing
  • Pushing a stroller (Hey, who doesn’t love to go for walks with the kids or grandkids!?)

What’s the Connection Between Cholesterol and Coronary Heart Disease?

Cholesterol’s Connection to Coronary Heart Disease

The main issue that arises from high cholesterol is coronary heart disease. The risk is especially high when your LDL is high.  This is essentially a disease of the arteries that bring the heart nutrients and oxygen. Atherosclerosis is the culprit behind coronary heart disease.

Atherosclerosis Furthered By Cholesterol’s Plaque

Atherosclerosis is a narrowing and hardening of the arteries that feed the heart. Most of the narrowing is caused by the depositing of cholesterol.  These cholesterol deposits are known as “plaque.”  Plaque around the artery can continue to grow and can lead to a decrease in nutrients and oxygen delivered to the heart. Over time, the narrowing can become so severe that the supply of nutrients and oxygen is insufficient to meet the heart’s needs. The plaque surrounding the artery can also become unstable and rupture, causing blood to clot in the region.  This may cause a complete or nearly complete cut off of blood flow to that region of the heart resulting in a heart attack.  You can think of this process like a kink in a hose.  Little or no oxygen or nutrients are delivered to that section of the heart and can cause death to the cells of that region of the heart.  In more severe cases the heart attack can result in death.

While some factors are unavoidable (like genetics), there are ways to prevent really severe cases.  A healthy lifestyle from early on can lower your chances of plaque build-up.  Lifestyle changes later on can help to restore health to your heart.  Look into your lifestyle choices.  Forming healthy habits can make all the difference, and it doesn’t have to be hard.

Coronary Heart Disease Is a #1 Concern in America

A similar process can happen in the brain as well, causing a stoke.  Atherosclerosis is the major contributor to both of these diseases, which are the number 1 and number 3 killers in America today. The American Heart Association has a great slide show that gives you a more in-depth view of how atherosclerosis work.  Just remember, it’s possible for you to be in control of your health.  Communicating with your doctors and reassessing some of your lifestyle choices can make a big difference.  Keep in mind that heart health doesn’t have to be hard.

Cholesterol Basics: Where’s the Bad Stuff Coming From?

Cholesterol.  The word itself evokes fear in the “heart” of Americans.  There is some validity behind this fear considering cholesterol is believed to contribute to arteriosclerosis, e.g. hardening of the arteries.

Cholesterol is produced by the body to help transport fat from the liver after it is absorbed into the body.  Some cholesterol, though, comes from food.  Most food-based cholesterol is often LDL.  LDL cholesterol travels to the cells, where it can cause damage and build-up.  HDL is carried away from the cells to the liver where it can be excreted.  Most of your body’s natural cholesterol is HDL. It is considered beneficial to have better HDL numbers and lower LDL numbers in cholersterol blood tests.

Get to Know Cholesterol

Arteriosclerosis is the the main contributor to cardiovascular disease and stroke, the number 1 and number 3 killers in America.  So what is cholesterol and is it a defect of the body that we make it? Understanding the answers to these questions can help us dispel some of our fear of cholesterol and give us a more well rounded understanding of how to approach the cholesterol issue.

Why Is It Important?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced by animals for a number of different functions in the body. It is the precursor to hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and cortisol, which are all valuable hormones.

We need cholesterol for the production of vitamin D in the body. We also use cholesterol to help stabilize the cell walls that surround each cell in our body. We need to think of the cells in our body as flexible, with a little bit of give to them. It may help to think about the difference between a sponge and a stone, or our skin and our bones. Our body likes to regulate how much give each cell has. Cholesterol is the key. Too much and our cells stiffen, and too little and our cells lose the ability to keep their form.

You can begin to see why too much cholesterol can lead to “hardening of the arteries.” This is not the whole story, but it helps show some of cholesterol’s role in heart disease and stroke.