The Defy Aging Newsletter
Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness
a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.
Blood Tests (part 1)
ACTION TO TAKE
When you have your annual physical, include blood testing for fibrinogen, homocystine, Hemoglobin A1C, and possibly C-reactive protein.
I normally focus on what I know best—what it takes mentally to grow young and live with purpose. Sometimes, news about physical health issues is so noteworthy that I address it as well. The research source that I have grown to trust the most for health news is the nonprofit organization, the Life Extension Foundation. It has a history of championing causes ten years before mainstream medicine and federal agencies acknowledge the problem or remedy.
Everyone agrees that exercise and good nutrition are vital to cardiovascular health. For the past decade, cardiologists have focused on cholesterol in the battle against heart disease—initially on total cholesterol and later on keeping HDL high and LDL low.
The Life Extension Foundation’s research indicates several factors foster cardiovascular problems and cholesterol probably isn’t the most important factor–certainly not the preeminent factor. Fibrinogen is one of those overlooked independent risk factors that has a substantial body of animal and human research indicating that higher levels of fibrinogen bring higher risk of heart attacks and stroke. In a 2006 study, for example, fibrinogen was the only independent risk factor to predict who was most likely to die within 42 months of a heart attack. It also is a risk factor for cancer.
The liver produces the protein fibrinogen to make fibrin for the “mesh” that forms to enable clotting to heal a wound or stop bleeding. Fibrin also helps in gathering platelets. We need some fibrin. Americans' sedentary lifestyles and fat rich diets, however, often result in levels that are too high. A simple blood test can check fibrinogen levels. The optimal range is 200-300 mg/dL. Factors that appear to reduce fibrinogen levels include:
- fish oil (e.g., fish such as salmon or from supplements)
- olive oil
- niacin (vitamin B3)
- Vitamin A
- keeping homocystine levels down (which usually can be reduced with vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid and lowering saturated fats)
- foods and supplements that thin the blood, e.g., aspirin, garlic, green tea, Ginkgo, and Vitamin E
If you do nothing else, when you have your annual physical, include blood testing for fibrinogen, homocystine, Hemoglobin A1C, and possibly C-reactive protein. Elevations of any of these is a red flag for high risk of cardiovascular disease. I'll discuss homocystine, Hemoglobin A1C, and C-reactive protein in the next issues.
Postscript to the Senior Report Card and Cancer Milestone issues
In 2003 2,448,288 Americans died. In 2004, only 2,398,343 Americans died. (2005 data have not been compiled yet.) Note that nearly 50,000 fewer Americans died in 2004 than in 2003, despite population increases and a greyer census. This is one more indication of life spans increasing. Fortunately, as reported in the previous issues, despite an obesity epidemic disability rates are also declining.
Every disease is a physician.
A new arrival, about to enter hospital, saw two white coated doctors searching through the flower beds. "Excuse me," he said, "have you lost something? ;"No," replied one of the doctors. "We're doing a heart transplant for an income-tax inspector and want to find a suitable stone."
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"Dr. Michael Brickey, The Anti-Aging Psychologist, teaches people to think, feel, look and be more youthful. He is an inspiring keynote speaker and Oprah-featured author. His works include: Defy Aging, 52 baby steps to Grow Young, and Reverse Aging (anti-aging hypnosis CDs). Visit www.NotAging.com for a free report on anti-aging secrets and a free newsletter with practical anti-aging tips."