Cholesterol, Heart Disease and Current Research


Statistically, 50% of people seen in the emergency room with a heart attack have “normal” cholesterol levels. That’s right- normal cholesterol levels! Let’s look at the all the indicators in your cholesterol “number” to find out how this could possibly happen.

First, prevention of cardiovascular disease it is not as simple lowering your cholesterol levels to under 180. Your total cholesterol number is actually a combination of several different components or fractions some of which reduce and others increase your risk of heart disease.

To start, there are 2 main subdivisions of your total cholesterol level: HDL cholesterol is considered “good” as it reduces inflammation and plaque build-up in your blood vessels and LDL cholesterol is considered “bad” as it promotes the build-up of arterial plaque and hardening of the arteries. But there is a lot more to the story.

Sign Up for E-News

There are other fractions of cholesterol that are more intricate markers of your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Current research is trending to using a more comprehensive lipid panel to indicate your real risk for heart disease. These lab markers include:

  • VLDL
  • LDL P
  • HDL-P
  • LP-PLA2
  • Lipoprotein a
  • Particle size
  • Apo Fractions

The bottom line an analysis of your complete cholesterol (lipid) profile with all sub-fractions is essential. Pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals both help to balance these markers; however, it often includes the incorporation of diet and lifestyle modification, to optimize your good cholesterol fractions.

A major problem is when  cholesterol becomes “oxidized” due to inflammation.  In an oxidized state it actually becomes sticky and adheres to blood vessel walls creating plaque build-up and hardening of the arteries. Again, there are specific lab tests for inflammation, the most common being: hs-CRP, fibrinogen, and homocysteine. A comprehensive lab assessment of your cardiovascular risk would need to include these variables.

A third challenge driving increased cardiovascular disease is insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes. Current research indicates insulin resistance can be determined by the ratios of the different cholesterol markers mentioned above. Again, a good reason to get a full lipid panel test.

The final step would be to look at the size and number of your cholesterol particles as a predictor of cardio-vascular risk. Keeping it simple, less but large particle size is better than many but small particles. Imagine the large fluffy cholesterol particles just floating around, hanging out so to speak, whereas the small particle size molecules are like bullets bouncing around at high speed and create more damage. So get that particle size checked and make them fluffy!

As for number, think of a 5 lbs sack of potatoes. It could have 3 Idaho potatoes in the sack, or 25 fingerling potatoes! More cholesterol particles means more risk.

At this point it is important to realize that every cell in your body needs cholesterol and your liver makes cholesterol for every cell in the body. So your body will always make cholesterol, the goal becomes to make big, fluffy cholesterol particles that are mostly in the HDL category.

A cholesterol lowering diet consists of green and colored vegetables, raw nuts, (especially almonds), vegetable protein, lean meat, fish, beans, and soluble fiber (oats, wheat bran, apples). A modified Mediterranean diet, with reduced saturated fats, restricted sugars and minimal grains is excellent. In fact, a 21 day diet (the SP Purification Program) has shown to dramatically reduce cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol management is more than just getting your LDL level to 180 or less or simply taking niacin or a statin drug. It is about knowing all or your cholesterol fractions, their ratios, and the particle size and addressing them individually. Lifestyle factors, diet, exercise, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals all play a role is obtaining an optimum cholesterol profile to reduce your risk for heart disease – use them judiciously.

Dr. Donald DeFabio is a dual board certified Chiropractic Physician in Berkeley Heights, NJ and author of Health Management: The DeFabio Difference. He is the Director of DeFabio Spine and Sports Rehab, LLC where Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Nutrition, and Personal Training are integrated for a comprehensive approach to your health management. The office may be reached at  or

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Berkeley Heights’ Women of the Week (WoW) Series features Beth Ferris Sale

March 18, 2018

In honor of the women who are driving change, blazing trails and nurturing society, the Berkeley Heights Diversity Council is pleased to announce an exciting initiative called, Women of the Week (WoW) Series. In the spirit of community, we wanted to honor the women right here in Berkeley Heights who are impacting the world in their own way for the remaining weeks of Women’s History ...

91 Young Musicians Work Together To Raise Nearly $14,000 for the New Jersey Youth Symphony

March 20, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ —91 young musicians in the New Jersey Youth Symphony’s Youth Orchestra (YO) ensemble have raised nearly $14,000 to date for the organization’s annual Playathon, a student-led fundraiser established by the New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) in 1985. The Playathon is the largest free concert of its kind and this Sunday over 450 students from 12 NJYS ensembles ...

UC Tech Student Volunteers Put Fun and Games to Work for Special Needs Learners

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Earlier this month, a group of 51 students in grades 9 to 11 from the Teacher Education Academy at UC TECH staged an indoor carnival for special needs learners. More than 140 participants from the community attended the event and enjoyed plinko, corn hole, dance revolution, hula hoop activities, a DJ, prizes and more.

UC TECH is part of the Union County ...

Soprano Anita Lyons Featured Soloist at Summit Symphony Concert March 25

The music of Grieg, Schumann ad Strauss will form the centerpiece of the next Summit Symphony Orchestra concert of the 2017-18 season, a performance which will take place March 25, beginning at 2 p.m., in the Summit High School Auditorium. Admission to all Summit Symphony concerts is free, with donations gratefully accepted. 

American Soprano Anita Lyons will ...

Host the Ultimate Party -- Extreme Foot Dart at the YMCA

Host the coolest, most unusual party EVER where kids will have a blast running and kicking balls around a gym trying to hit a ginormous inflatable target.   A variety of games and activities will be sure to keep your guests engaged and having fun followed by 45 minutes in our private party room.

 Party Times: April - October
Saturdays: 3:30pm-5:00pm

Members / ...

NPHS Student's Response to After School Walk-out Plan at NPHS

March 14, 2018

A group of students file into a science classroom amid a nervous din of chatter, the air is electric with excitement and nervousness. This small group of approximately 30 students are a studious bunch, largely members of the sophomore class with squeaky clean administrative histories. They are currently preparing to defy authority and stand up for what they believe in, even though they had been ...

New Providence's Allen W. Roberts School Gets Security Walk Through by Police Department after Bomb Threat

March 12, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Providence Police Department sent a letter to parents and guardians of students at Allen W. Roberts Elementary School after a non-specific bomb threat was reported on Monday afternoon.

It's the second threat  reported at a New Providence school in March. The first threat was reported on March 5th at New Providence High School.

Emergency ...

Hillsborough: Suspended HS Athletic Director Charged with Theft

March 20, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - Suspended Hillsborough High School Athletic Director Michael Fanizzi has been arrested and charged with the theft of $10,704 in athletic event receipts over a four-year period from 2013-2017, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Fanizzi, 53, a resident of Conover Way in Hillsborough who had been athletics director for 14 years,, had been suspended ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, March 20, 7:30 PM

Mountain Park School, Berkeley Heights

Boy Scout Open House - Troop 368

Education Giving Back

Wed, March 21, 5:30 PM

Great Swamp Watershed Association, Morristown

Coffee & Tea Tasting - FREE GSWA Event

Arts & Entertainment Education Food & Drink

Wed, March 21, 7:00 PM

Summit Free Public Library, Summit

increase your networking and interviewing iq

Business & Finance Other

Thu, March 22, 7:00 PM

Summit Free Public Library, Summit

The Long march home: An American Soldier's Life ...

Education Other


Fri, March 23, 9:30 AM

Dunkin Donuts, Berkeley Heights

Let’s Meet Up to Clean Up! BH Walks, a New ...


JCP&L Representative Describes Utility’s Actions During Storm Quinn, Answers Residents' Questions

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The format of this week’s  Berkeley Heights 'Here and Now' was turned on its head this week. Mayor Bob Woodruff reviewed what happened in the township following Storm Quinn and its predecessor Storm Riley, complete with statistics. He then asked a representative of JCP&L questions about the utility’s response, and how it was ...

Berkeley Heights, Here and Now: Redevelopment Updates

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Mayor's Round Table has been rebranded to "Berkeley Heights, Here and Now." This new format will continue to provide updates from Mayor Bob Woodruff, municipal offices and the Communications Committee want to hear from citizens, businesses and community organizations.

Included in this episode, Mayor Bob Woodruff addresses the status of the ...

Dear Susan: Beauty Tips from a Beauty Expert, Spring Edition

SUSAN BARBAGLIA, owner of Skin Deep Salon and Spa in New Providence, offers a wealth of knowledge and expertise as a leader in the beauty industry. With over thirty years experience in skin care, Susan can answer your most challenging beauty questions. Email your ...

You Want a Check for How Much!

 My first admissions gig was working for a small liberal arts college with a pretty hefty price tag.  Picture me at a college fair: name tag in place, pile of brochures ready to go.  An eager family would walk up and we’d start a conversation.  One of the first questions I’d get from parents was about cost and the moment that $50,000-plus figure left my mouth I ...

Now That The Dust Has Settled…Smart Tax Moves In 2018

Now that the dust has settled, here are some smart tax moves to lower your taxes and/or avoid higher taxes/penalties in 2018. These steps may be especially helpful if you live in high property and high income tax states (e.g. New Jersey, New York, California) since state and local tax deductions are capped.  Unfortunately all these changes mean you’ll need more time and energy to ...