Cardiovascular disease

Neolife medical management

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in developed countries, far ahead of the sum of all forms of cancer.

Every year, twice as many women die as a result of a stroke than from breast cancer. Cardiovascular disease does not affect men alone: in fact, its incidence is similar in men and women between 40 and 59 years of age.

In addition, in many cases the first symptom or sign of cardiovascular disease is the heart attack itself, or a cerebral thromboembolism and, therefore, prevention even when asymptomatic is necessary.

Anyone who is even remotely informed of cardiovascular disease is well aware of the importance of preventing myocardial infarction or cerebral thrombosis through good lifestyle habits, especially with regard to nutrition and exercise.

Until only a few years ago, cholesterol and high blood pressure were the main culprits of cardiovascular disease. This is somewhat true, but only in part. Science is continuously advancing and things change. Nowadays, “Don’t eat more than two eggs a week” is a well known yet completely obsolete piece of medical advice. Fatty meats, sausages, whole milk products… are all rich in saturated fats and cholesterol, and their intake should be controlled. However, cholesterol is not the only culprit, and neither is it the main culprit of cardiovascular disease. The main culprits are in fact trans fats, diabetes, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and family history…

cardiovascular disease

For more than 60 years, numerous scientific studies have been questioning the correlation between plasma cholesterol levels and the formation of atherosclerotic plaque that triggers a cardiovascular event. An example of this is known as “The French Paradox” (1), which refers to the epidemiological observation of a low incidence of cardiovascular disease among the French with diets that are rich in saturated fat and high levels of cholesterol. Of course this is not to say that having high cholesterol is now recommended.

Recent studies have shown that 75% of cardiovascular attacks are not the result of atherosclerotic plaque narrowing the iliac artery, but rather due to a rupture of swollen and unstable atherosclerotic plaque that breaks away and forms a blood clot. This blood clot travels through the artery until it becomes too narrow where it then obstructs the passage of blood and produces a heart attack, if it is in the heart, or a stroke, if it is in the brain.

What really matters is therefore the degree of inflammation and plaque stability. Unfortunately, it is possible to have inflamed and unstable atherosclerotic plaque in our arteries without any symptoms, even with normal cholesterol levels. In fact, 50% of people who suffer a heart attack have normal cholesterol levels (2). Fortunately, analytical and image testing are already available in order to detect the presence of atherosclerotic plaque and the degree of stability, using a minimally invasive technique.

At Neolife, we measure the Intima-Media Thickness (IMT) of the inner two layers of the carotid artery wall to provide an accurate and early indicator of the formation of atherosclerotic plaque. The greater the thickness, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease (3). We also determine the absence or presence, to a greater or lesser degree, of any calcification of atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries (Calcium Score). The calcification of atherosclerotic plaque is an indicator of its inflammation and it is understood that the greater the level of calcification, the higher the cardiovascular risk.

Therefore, it is not just about addressing our cholesterol levels and blood pressure when learning about our degree of cardiovascular health. A deep understanding of our health and longevity biomarkers gives us the necessary information to effectively manage our health and the quality of the rest of our life.


(1) “The French Paradox; Lessons for other countries”

(2) Sachdeva A, Cannon CP, Deedwania PC, et al. Lipid levels in patients hospitalized with coronary artery disease: an analysis of 136,905 hospitalizations in Get With The Guidelines. Am Heart J. 2009;157(1):111-117.e2.


(4) The Lp-PLA2 Studies Collaboration. Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 and risk of coronary disease, stroke and mortality: collaborative analysis of 32 prospective studies. Lancet. 2010;375(9725):1536-1544.