The Truth About Aspirin and Cholesterol

The Truth About Aspirin and Cholesterol

By  Dr. Michelle Kmiec

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Does an aspirin a  day really keep the heart attack away?  So say the “medical experts”!

Per the Mayo Clinic,  “aspirin therapy reduces the clumping action of platelets — possibly preventing heart attack and stroke.”  On  the surface, this sounds reasonable.  But I’d like to do a bit more  investigating into just how an aspirin can truly help prevent a heart attack or stroke.

Plaque and the Arteries

A major culprit that has been linked to a heart attack or stroke is known as arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis is a fancy word that basically means, the hardening of the arteries due to accumulation of a substance known as plaque  — mainly comprised of  cholesterol (fat)  and  fibrous tissue.

Plaque has become a scary word in pharmaceutical advertising, but it isn’t as bad as you may think it is. In fact, it is actually  a  normal  healing process within the body.  When an artery becomes damaged, plaque is a means by which the artery is repaired. The problem with plaque occurs when the artery  continues to be damaged, resulting in more and more plaque build-up. This then causes that particular part of the artery to lose its elasticity, and then eventually to harden.

This process isn’t much different than if you cut your leg. As your leg heals, the added tissue leaves a scar. The tissue that makes up that  scar is not as flexible as the original tissue had been before. It’s the same in your arteries. Once a section of the artery becomes blocked with plaque, blood can no longer flow through the artery resulting in a heart attack or stroke. Or a small piece of the plaque may break off… again, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.

So How Does an Aspirin Help?

However, plaque doesn’t just appear magically at the site of a damaged artery or blood vessel;  a damaged area first requires an influx of blood (as with any area of inflammation), and with this influx of blood comes the platelets which are responsible for coagulation (clotting of the blood).  Normally this isn’t a problem to your health; you would not even notice this has happened. But  if the area was  already damaged with a layer of plaque, and is then damaged again, the narrowing could now be significant enough to cause a blockage.

In 2005, The Journal of Clinical Investigation  actually  linked inflammation, platelets and the development of the dangerous plaque on arteries, stating  “Platelets represent an important linkage between inflammation, thrombosis, and atherogenesis (plaque)”.

Taking an aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) impedes the clotting action of the blood (platelets) at the area of injury. So even if the area already is affected by plaque, and thus the artery has been narrowed, an aspirin prevents the clotting – a natural healing function – so the obstruction does not occur.

But, is this really the best method of heart attack prevention? Is this truly prevention, or  simply a Band-Aid solution?

What Causes the Inflammation in the First Place?

What causes the inflammation to the arteries, which in turn results in damage and plaque?  In general, the allistic medical consensus is that this process is due to  high cholesterol; specifically “bad” cholesterol or  LDL, thus the onslaught of low-fat diets, butter substitutes, Lipitor and other “cholesterol” suppressors.

But is cholesterol REALLY dangerous?  Does  cholesterol really causes damage to the arteries?

Well, there are many health  experts who do  not  think so. Says  Dr. John Briffa, a naturally-oriented medical doctor from England:

“In recent years, much attention has been focused on the need to control cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. However,  studies suggest that cholesterol per se is not the problem. It is when cholesterol becomes damaged through a process known as ‘oxidation’ that it then has the propensity to settle on the inside of the body’s arteries.”

Wow! This sounds ground-breaking! But in fact, this isn’t new knowledge at all! Many recent studies have proven that cholesterol itself is not dangerous.  And not only that — we need cholesterol to be Healthy, and too-low cholesterol is actually deadly.

To learn more about cholesterol, check out:

Okay, I hear can hear you thinking, “If this is true, then what causes the damage and the plaque?”

Well, cholesterol is only dangerous when  it becomes oxidized. And once cholesterol is oxidized, it is known as oxysterol. Although many people  have had their cholesterol levels checked, I would bet that most have never had their oxysterol levels checked — or let alone have ever heard of oxysterol!

What Causes the Oxidation of Cholesterol?

So if oxysterol is the dangerous culprit, then what causes the oxidation of cholesterol?

Cholesterol just  doesn’t  oxidize itself. It first requires a catalyst. In order to achieve the chemical change from cholesterol to oxysterol, it requires something that causes the reaction such as  heat, light, radiation and/or oxygen.

The follow are some of the  major factors in our lives that contribute to the oxidation of cholesterol:

1. Processed Foods  including artificial chemicals, preservatives, irradiation, etc…

An interesting study done in 2005, and published in  Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, concluded the following:

“…Moreover,  dietary oxidized cholesterol significantly increased  aortic lesions in apo-E and LDL receptor-deficient mice. A typical Western diet is rich in oxidized fats and therefore could  contribute to the increased arterial atherosclerosis  in our population.”

2. Pollution  including chemicals, pesticides, fossil fuels, etc…

In 2004, an investigative study on cardiovascular mortality, and long-term exposure to air pollution was  published in  Circulation  (major scientific journal for the American Heart Association) found the following:

“…Fine particulate air pollution is a risk factor for cause-specific cardiovascular disease mortality via mechanisms that likely include pulmonary and systemic inflammation,  accelerated atherosclerosis, and altered cardiac autonomic function…”

3. Smoking Cigarettes

Science has long been aware that cigarette smoking is a major cause of lung and pancreatic cancers, as well as, a cause of heart attack and stroke due to, none other than, arteriosclerosis. A 2011 study published in  Free Radical Biology & Medicine  found:

“Cigarette smoking predisposes to the development of multiple diseases  involving oxidative damage…Our findings confirm that certain oxidative damage biomarkers are elevated in smokers even after a period of abstinence from smoking, whereas these plus some others are elevated after acute smoking…”

With the FDA’s approval of  processed foods and added chemicals (plus more recently GMO foods), as well as the approval of over 400 chemicals found in cigarettes (over 20 are known to be carcinogenic), and the EPA’s approval of increasing the “safe” limits of  pesticides and other environmental toxic chemicals, who  is truly trying to prevent the dangerous health effects of the above listed?

Do we know of anyone that would profit from all of this?  Big pharma companies of course!

When you take a good look at such a list, and with nearly an estimated 5 million people affected with arteriosclerosis each year, one has to wonder  the about the ridiculousness of blaming butter for our  plaque build-up!  If it was simply a question of eating low fat food, then why are there so many people with “high cholesterol”  who “eat right and exercise, but it’s still not enough” – as per the Lipitor ad commercials?

Why are so many more people sicker today than just a few decades ago?

So were has our investigation led us?

Oxysterol, not cholesterol, triggers an inflammation response in the arteries that results in an influx of blood (and platelets) to heal the area resulting in the left-over scar tissue, which we call plaque. And if this cycle continues, the added layers of plaque will become thicker causing the artery to lose its elasticity.  Ultimately, if the area becomes thick enough to block the blood flow through the artery, a heart attack or stroke may occur.

With that said, we can deduce that an aspirin, in fact, is only a Band-Aid as it “reduces the clumping action of the platelets” caused by the body’s natural inflammation response, potentially stopping the blockage of the artery.

So if aspirin is merely a Band-Aid, is there another option that is  more preventive and more importantly,  more healing to the body?

Absolutely!  And you already of heard of it.  They are  called  antioxidants  — specifically  Vitamin E.

Sadly, this is where medical science contradicts itself in a couple ways!

  • Medical science is aware it is the  oxidation of cholesterol  that is the culprit, yet proposes no meaningful changes to  chemical restrictions in our food, air, or water. In fact, these levels are increasing!
  • Medical science requires research and yet,  despite the proven research regarding natural therapies such as Vitamin E, symptom-suppressing drugs are still its  only answer.

If studies have indicated that the real problem is the oxidation of cholesterol, rather than cholesterol itself, then  wouldn’t  preventing the oxidation be a better “preventative” option than taking an aspirin to interfere with the clotting action of the blood in response to a  damaged artery?

Vitamin E: Powerful Antioxidant!

Vitamin E protects cholesterol from oxidation.  Logic dictates that by reducing the oxidation, the potential damage is also then reduced. A review back in 1998 in  Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition  noted:

“…Vitamin E protects LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) from oxidation, and tocotrienols inhibit cholesterol synthesis — functions that may help protect against heart disease.”

Continuing…

“Some cell culture experiments suggest that tocotrienols may also  inhibit cancer cell proliferation.  Vitamin E has been shown to  reduce oxidative stress in diabetics, thereby enhancing immune response. Additionally, vitamin E may play an important role in neurological diseases—some evidence shows that vitamin E  protects nerve cells from oxidative stress  or protein toxicity and may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Going back even a few years early, a study published in  Arteriosclerosis and Thrombosis: Journal of Vascular Biology / American Heart Association  concluded;

“…These results show that vitamin E prevents endothelial dysfunction associated with cholesterol feeding and suggests that  vitamin E may be beneficial in preventing functional impairment associated with atherosclerosis.”

Okay, all of this shows that Vitamin E is helpful in the  prevention  of atherosclerosis,  but what if the condition already  exists?  Since the role of aspirin is to prevent the adhesion of platelets, a fair question to ask is: Can vitamin E do that?

The answer is Yes!

Published in  Nutrition Reviews, it was found that  Vitamin E does the very same job that aspirin does!

“…Vitamin E-induced  inhibition of protein kinase C leads to decreased platelet pseudopodia formation  upon stimulation by agonists, a process that is instrumental in  reducing platelet adhesion…”

Furthermore, a study published in 2010 in  Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition  found that Vitamin E is effective at preventing the oxidation of LDL and HDL;

“…The above evidence suggests that the antioxidants which inhibit oxidation of LDL and HDL  should be effective for prevention of atherosclerosis  and related diseases and numerous studies have been performed to examine the beneficial effect of antioxidants.  It has been shown that the antioxidants which inhibit LDL oxidation in vitro are in general, if not always, effective for prevention of atherosclerosis in animal models.”

This sounds great right? However despite these findings, they  conclude  the following:

“  It may be unrealistic to expect  that a few years of antioxidant supplementation can turn around the effects of oxidative stress on endothelium which  lasted more than 30 years.  In contrast to human trials, the animal studies are performed under the same lifestyle with the same diet, which may yield more consistent outcome than human trials.”

First, is this  evidence or speculation?

Evidence or Speculation?

Assuming this is, in fact,  evidence, then my answer is… Well of course it is going to take time to rid the body of something that took thirty years to accumulate!  Improving  our society’s  dietary habits is an ongoing campaign, and with so many different view points as to  what a healthy diet actually is, this campaign will continue on to the unforeseeable future. But it seems the quick-fix mentality wins again.

A must read article,  Vitamin E and Heart Disease  (formerly entitled  Vitamin E: The True Cost of Cynicism) by Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D. lays out the bias of the medical “drug” profession against natural therapies, despite the research;  in this case, the same bias surrounds the benefits of Vitamin E.

Although I do believe Vitamin E does  and  can reverse the damage of years of oxidative stress, and is a far better choice in  “blood thinners” (see  Yes to Rat Poison! No to Vitamin E!), there is another natural weapon in the holistic box of nature’s cures (besides  Vitamin C) that should also be looked at…

It is called  Serrapeptase.

Serrapeptase: the Amazing Enzyme!

Life Extension Magazine  recently featured an interesting article, Serrapeptase: The Natural Anti-Inflammatory. It stated:

“…When this enzyme is isolated and coated in the form of a tablet, it has been shown to act as an  anti-inflammatory and a pain-blocker, much like aspirin, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  What’s more,  preliminary research indicates that Serrapeptase may even help inhibit plaque build-up in arteries, thereby preventing atherosclerosis  (hardening of the arteries) and a resulting heart attack or stroke. Therefore,  much like aspirin, this naturally derived enzyme may work to prevent inflammation, pain, heart attack and stroke. Unlike aspirin and other over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDs, Serrapeptase has not been shown to cause ulcers and stomach bleeding…”

This article is primarily based on the work of  Dr. Hans Nieper, who found that;

Serrapeptase dissolves only dead tissues such as the old fibrous layers that clog the lining of our arteries and dangerously restrict the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.  Because of this, Serrapeptase is extremely useful in keeping arterial deposits from building up again after angioplasty (a balloon technique used to clear an artery blockage) or coronary bypass surgery has been performed.”

So it would seem there  are  effective natural options to drugs for cholesterol!  Plus, the potential negative side-effects of  aspirin therapy and cholesterol lowering drugs  could be avoided altogether.

Dr. Hans Nieper said it best when he said:

“NEVER accept substitutes when it comes to your health!”

Updated October  2014

 Resources:

Previous articles by Dr. Michelle:

About the author:

dr michelle kmiec

Dr. Michelle Kmiec is a board certified chiropractic physician who also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology, and a minor in Medical Research. She is a life-long athlete who after curing herself 100% naturally from MS and anxiety, became an avid nutrition health researcher/promoter. She has been featured in many Health magazines, and has been a guest on radio talk shows in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. She is the author of Health Freedom Revolution: Exposing the Lies, Deceit and Greed of the Medical Profession’, Founder of Online Holistic Health, and a contributing writer for other popular informative health website/blogs. She is also founder of The Triad of Life™ Holistic Lifestyle Program the most comprehensive holistic program on the internet today.

For more information, visit Online Holistic Health or connect with Dr. Michelle Kmiec on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Please note:  this article is not intended to give specific medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

 


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