Systemic enzymes, vitamin C among alternatives to statins for heart health

Is inflammation — particularly that tied to the biomarker C-reactive protein (CRP) — a more blameworthy culprit than cholesterol for heart disease?

Research and analysis points to a plausible connection between CRP and cardiovascular risk, as the indicator of inflammation could signal clogged arteries.

Results of a nearly two-year study, JUPITER (Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention: An Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin), show that the statin drug Crestor significantly cut death risk and the likelihood of heart attack among people with elevated CRP levels. The participants had low cholesterol and no other big cardiovascular risks.

The costly prescription’s ability to reduce high levels of CRP (inflammation) among about 18,000 study participants likely could have contributed to a combined 44 percent decrease in heart-related problems, according to The Associated Press.

Inflammation as important as cholesterol
Of note in this study is that people with low or normal cholesterol experience half of all heart attacks, the AP reports, meaning inflammation could play just as significant a role as cholesterol in cardiovascular disease. Factors such as diet, the environment and personality might spur inflammatory chemicals that lead to heart troubles.

However, drugs such as Crestor are far from the only answer in addressing cardiovascular inflammation. In fact, there are several nutritional options that offer an alternative to the statin, which in some people has been found to cause diabetes, liver dysfunction and a rare muscle condition.

One such alternative is systemic enzyme therapy, which has shown to modulate the natural inflammatory process.

Nutritional options abound for heart health
In a 1995 study, “Systemic enzyme therapy in diseases of the vascular system,” the author argues that enzyme therapy plays a role in ameliorating inflammation of the blood vessels. Further, the author claims systemic enzyme therapy modulates immune function, as well as provides a preventive and therapeutic effect for thromboses and venous insufficiency.

Other nutritional approaches to cardiac care include magnesium, co-enzyme Q10, L-carnitine and D-Ribose, according to Holistic Primary Care.

Released on the heels of JUPITER, a University of California, Berkeley, study shows that vitamin C supplements lower CRP levels, according to ScienceDaily. Like in the JUPITER study, healthy participants with elevated CRP levels saw reductions in the inflammatory biomarker.

Similar to results of studies involving cholesterol-lowering statins, the vitamin C trial dropped CRP levels by 0.25 milligrams per liter, compared with about 0.2 for drugs. The UC Berkeley study provided a daily vitamin C dose of 1,000 milligrams.

For participants with CRP levels greater than 2 milligrams per liter, Crestor brought the inflammatory indicator down 37 percent in the JUPITER study. In comparison, the vitamin C study dropped the same CRP levels 34 percent, ScienceDaily reports.

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