Just the Basics: Heart Disease
Everything you actually care to know about heart disease is here.
For an unbroken 102 years — since 1920 (end of the Spanish Flu) — heart disease has been the number one cause of death.
You’d think we would know something by now. Let’s real-talk cholesterol. Do you know what it actually is?
Cholesterol is a VITAL component of cell structure throughout your body. No cholesterol = no cell walls. Even teeth. Consider cholesterol your bulk raw material.
Lipoproteins, on the other hand, are NOT cholesterol. Terms like “LDL-Cholesterol” are (or should be) professionally embarrassing to the medical community. Lipoproteins (LP) like LDL, HDL, VLDL, IDL, and Chylomicrons move fats and cholesterol to where they’re needed. Fat and water don’t mix: LPs are boats to carry fatty molecules (energy and building materials) through water-based blood. This is the reason why the “pipe clog” model of fats is so ridiculous. Fats and cholesterol in your bloodstream are packaged in LPs; they’re not free to just “stick” to your arteries and accumulate.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a buildup of cholesterol-based plaques, right? Absolutely.
Prepare yourself: your body does this on purpose.
CVD is an emergency attempt to repair damaged arteries. Heart disease is your body trying to protect itself from a particular inflammatory substance in the bloodstream.
In every list of heart disease risk factors you will see two basic categories.
- Conditions causing chronically elevated insulin (smoking, diabetes, etc.)
- Eating lots of saturated fats
Here’s a good analogy: inflammation is the fire; cholesterol is the fire department. Even the Japanese symbol for inflammation depicts two fires: 炎. Cholesterol gets sent to the site of the fire to form a protective layer from further damage to the blood vessel itself.
Cardiovascular disease, simply, is your body is protecting you from widespread, low-level, chronic internal bleeding due to high glucose and insulin levels.
Blaming heart disease on cholesterol or LDL is precisely the wrong conclusion. YES, there is a 1-for-1 causal relationship between high cholesterol and heart disease.
But blaming high cholesterol levels for heart disease is the same backwards thinking as blaming fire departments for fires. Firefighters have a near 100% association rate with the presence of fires, so they must be causing all the fires, right? Wrong. Precisely wrong.
There are many other drivers of inflammation, but chronically high insulin is a sufficient cause.
Having used TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis on complex systemic failures and deep-seated human performance and workplace culture problems, we find that often the greatest barrier to change is not wanting to consider solutions outside our knowledge or experience that prevents us from solving failures. Follow the evidence. Always use what you actually see to validate your assumptions.
“Study books and observe nature; if they do not agree, throw away the books.”
William A. Albrecht
Just the Basics is designed to explain complex subjects as simply as possible. As Churchill said, ” . . . truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” Nobody profits from you being healthy, your car working, or your systems being reliable . . . nobody except you.
In case you are interested in all the good technical mechanistic stuff, here’s my suggested starter list.
Video and Audio
- Ivor Cummins on Systemic Root Causes of Cardiovascular Disease
- Widowmaker – Directed by Patrick Forbes
- 2KetoDudes Podcast Episodes 16 and 38
- Jeff Volek on Cardio-Metabolic Benefits of Low Carb Diet
- Eat Rich Live Long – Ivor Cummins
- The Obesity Code – Jason Fung
- The Case Against Sugar – Gary Taubes
 Noakes, M., Foster, P., Keogh, J., et al. Comparison of isocaloric very low carbohydrate/high saturated fat and high carbohydrate/low saturated fat diets on body composition and cardiovascular risk. Nutr Metab (Lond) 3, 7 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-3-7
 Paoli, A et al. Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2013) 67, 789–796 doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.116
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or specialist; I am an engineer and systems analyst by training. I take what I see at face value and ask how it makes mechanistic sense. Common concepts about metabolism, disease, nutrition, economics, politics, and culture operate are Type III or Type IV errors.
People largely, and organizations ALWAYS, operate according to their perceived incentives, which is usually not a best practice, but a worst practice.
Convention has so far led to degeneration, so I avoid it. Your own thoughts and intuition are your most reliable healthcare decision-making tool. YOU are solely responsible for your personal health, not your doctor, and certainly not me. Quit outsourcing your decision-making to the “experts.”
You can’t fix problems you don’t understand.
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