Heart Disease Risk Factors Your Doctor Won't Tell You About

By Michael A. Smith, MD

Heart Disease Risk Factors Your Doctor Won’t Tell You AboutModifying traditional heart disease risk factors is not enough to protect your heart. Many Americans continue to suffer from heart attacks and stroke despite receiving a clean bill of health from their doctors. So what are we missing?

Traditional medicine modifies just 6 risk factors — obesity, smoking, high LDL-cholesterol, low HDL-cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood sugar.  However, Life Extension® recognizes 11 additional risk factors.

Here are two additional risk factors to consider if you want to keep your heart healthy …

Low Vitamin K2

In nature, vitamin K is found in two forms: K1, which occurs in leafy green vegetables; and K2, which exists in organ meats, egg yolks, dairy products, and particularly in fermented products such as cheese and curd. While some ingested K1 is converted to K2 in the body, significant benefits occur when vitamin K2 itself is supplemented.1

The absorption of K2 into the bloodstream is relatively efficient, whereas relatively little K1 is absorbed from plant foods. The kinds of food rich in K2 (organ meats, eggs, and dairy) should not be eaten in excess. This is why supplementation is so important. The Japanese, who eat large quantities of a fermented soybean food, have lower rates of heart disease because of K2.2

In one study, rats given vitamin K1 plus warfarin (a blood thinner) were not protected against arterial calcification. The scientists fed rats a diet containing warfarin plus K1, vitamin K2, or both forms. None of the rats that received K2 developed arterial calcification, while 100% of the rats that received K1 without vitamin K2 displayed calcification in the aorta and carotid arteries.

A more recent study showed that higher doses of K2 decreased arterial calcium content by 50% in rats. What makes this finding so remarkable is that most people over age 30–40 already have some degree of arterial calcification and up until now have had no means to reverse it.3

Life Extension suggests 1100 mcg/day of vitamin K2 — 1000 mcg from MK-4 and 100 mcg from MK-7. MK-4 and 7 are sub-forms of vitamin K2.

Low PON-1

Paraoxanase-1 or PON-1 is the enzymatic engine for HDL-cholesterol. People with higher levels of PON-1 have a lower risk of cardiovascular outcomes.4 The enzyme performs three critical functions:

  1. Prevents Oxidation of Fats & Cholesterol
  2. Eases Inflammation within Arterial Plaques
  3. Supports Optimal Reverse Cholesterol Transport

Enhancing PON-1 effects is an important step to protecting yourself from heart disease. Here are 4 key nutrients to consider:

  1. Pomegranate – Consider supplementing with an extract that includes nutrients from the fruit, seeds, and flower.
  2. Resveratrol – Supplementing with 250 mg/day of the “trans” form is best.
  3. Quercetin – A potent polyphenol antioxidant found in citrus fruits.
  4. Black Tea Theaflavins – Black is the new green tea! An antioxidant found in black tea, called theaflavin, helps to ease inflammation within the arterial wall.

For more details on these and additional risk factors, watch our latest webinar on heart disease risk factors.


  1. Geleijnse JM, Vermeer C, Grobbee DE, et al. Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study. J Nutr. 2004 Nov;134(11):3100-5.
  2. Nagata C. Ecological study of the association between soy product intake and mortality from cancer and heart disease in Japan. Int J Epidemiol. 2000 Oct;29(5):832-6.
  3. Schurgers LJ, Spronk HM, Soute BA, Schiffers PM, DeMey JG, Vermeer C. Regression of warfarin-induced medial elastocalcinosis by high intake of vitamin K in rats. Blood. 2007 Apr 1;109(7):2823-31.
  4. Antony B, Benny M, Kaimal TNB. A pilot clinical study to evaluate the effect of Emblica officinalis extract (Amlamax®) on markers of systemic inflammation and dyslipidemia. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2008; 23(4):378-81.


Anonymous said...

Great post, some people should read this. By the way, nice blog.

Wholediet said...

Excellent article, very important facts many young people should know.

elynevay said...

Very interesting article, pomegranate and back tea help to lower cardiovascular risk. What level of pomegranate intake and how many cups of tea per day is needed to have a positive impact? Appreciate the information.

Life Extension said...

Dear elynevay,

Please keep in mind that no supplements or any branded product has been shown to lower cardiovascular risk. However, pomegranate, as a food source, is believed to support endothelial cell function, while black tea theaflavins may help to ease vascular inflammation. We suggest 400 to 500 mg/day of pomegranate extract to support endothelial health and 300 mg/day of black tea theaflavins—approximately 12-15 cups per day—to help ease inflammation.

Jim H Day, Jr OD said...

What about Iron toxicity?
Did you read the recent paper by Doug Kell PhD on poorly liganded Iron, LEF Dec 8 2010 What's hot "Iron dysregulation could be behind numerous diseases."
The original explains a renewed concept, fight oxidation with more than anti-oxidants. Stop the oxidants! Iron is just one example.
This explains why Diabetic Retinopathy is much worse with the higher serum Ferritin rates, Dr Kell has 20 pages of references and limited his point to "just iron".

Life Extension said...

Great point! The blog entries unfortunately cannot cover everything I would like to write. However, Life Extension has long recognized the toxic dangers of excess iron and the detrimental effects on cardiovascular health. We have long suggested products such as lactoferrin for maintaining healthy iron levels. Thanks for your insight. Here is a report we wrote back in 2005: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2005/aug2005_report_antiox_01.htm

Cindy~ blooming tea said...

Yes, with so many junk foods around we need to think twice before consuming this "killer" foods and start eating healthy diet before it's too late.

Life Extension said...

Hi Cindy. You got it right! Diet is so important in preventing all age-related diseases. Thanks for reading our blog.

First aid training said...

In this generation, we can't actually say who is have a heart failure. Anyone can be a victim and anyone can have this illness. That is why further prevention and knowledge is a good key to prevent this kind of disease.

LaPortaMA said...

You always leave out two very important, controllable risk factors: fear and anger. Studies show.

Knee Replacement Surgery said...

Very well written! Great post, small yet effective. I am glad to know about and read thoroughly. Thank you for the worthy share.

Raspberry ketones said...

So there are two types of K vitamin i don't have knowledge of this but i love to find this blog as here i can improve my biology

Life Extension said...

Raspberry ketones- If you’d like to learn more about the different types of vitamin K, we suggest visiting this link! http://ow.ly/dBh2F

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