If you’re 50 years old and want to avoid having a heart attack, lower your risk factors. A risk factor is anything that increases your risk of heart attack. The common ones are high cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, and inactivity. I always emphasize the importance of diet and exercise, and the reason for this is simple: It reduces your risk of having a heart attack.
Now, let’s discuss another risk factorlow levels of the hormone DHEA.
DHEA is used by your body to produce all other hormones, including testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. For reasons we don’t yet know, our production of DHEA declines as we get older, and as it drops, a host of diseases seem to come out of the woodwork, heart disease being one of them.
Low DHEA Levels Can Be a Predictor for Heart Disease
A retrospective study on heart patients found that a reduced blood level of DHEA is a specific and independent marker of heart disease. The DHEA levels of 49 male survivors of heart attacks were compared with those of 49 controls. The patients who had the heart attacks had significantly reduced DHEA levels. They remained low even when they were controlled for cholesterol, blood pressure and other risk factors.
Conventional doctors give patients drugs to lower blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and even to elevate a low HDL level. All of these drugs have major side effects, and it is not even proven that they reduce the risk of heart disease.
Whereas it has not been proven that elevating the DHEA level in the blood with supplemental hormone will prevent a heart attack, it is far safer and more reasonable than all the cholesterol-lowering drugs guzzled every day. Even though any physician can write a prescription for DHEA and any pharmacist can “compound” (put the hormone in a capsule) and dispense it to a patient, the only physicians who are doing this are the unconventional ones.
Why is there resistance to giving a perfectly safe, naturally occurring hormone that might ward off a heart attack? I cannot answer that, except to say that breakthroughs are simply ignored unless they happen to be a patented prescription drug.
Look for the Real Thing
There are several products on the market that are promoted as containing DHEA, but they don’t contain enough to have a measurable effect on your blood level. Additionally, many who promote the use of plant products often state that true DHEA is not available. That is obviously not true, because I have been prescribing it for many years. The prescription DHEA costs less than many of the drugs used to lower your cholesterol levelthe average cost for 50 mg per day is around $20 a month.
In the same way you measure your blood cholesterol level and blood triglyceride level, you should be measuring your DHEA level as well. If your DHEA is below the average range for your age, strongly consider supplementing with DHEA to bring your blood level up. The dose I use is 25 to 50 mg per day in women and 50 to 100 mg per day in men, while monitoring the DHEA sulfate levels.
DHEA strengthens many other aspects of your body, including brain function, energy level, and immune system. Heart disease is surely not the only condition you could be avoiding by supplementation with DHEA.
Mitchell, LE et al. Evidence for an association between dehydroepiandosterone sulfate and nonfatal, premature myocardial infarction in males. Circulation, Jan. 1994;89:89-93.
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