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Immune System Health: What We Can Control

“Immunosuppression.” What exactly does that mean? And how can you prevent it? At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, those with an immunosuppressed immune system appear to be losing the battle against this disease. Immunosuppression is defined as: suppression of the immune system and its ability to fight infection (1).

For those who have read my past blogs, you are very aware of my current fight to avoid needing to take statins. Here’s a synopsis of my statins journey so far. My primary doctor said I needed to consider statins after I got my cholesterol numbers to 178, HDL to 58, LDL to 110, and Triglycerides to 52 — all through a whole food, plant-based eating plan. I pushed back and said, “Is that really necessary?” So he sent me to a cardiologist. I left the cardiologist’s office with a 10 mg per day statin prescription. He also gave me a nuclear stress test (a four-hour procedure) which came back normal. Then I went for a second opinion. This second cardiologist also said statins were something I should consider. But I still pushed back. So he has given me 5 months to bring my LDL number down with plant-based eating and exercise. I’ll be back in August after a blood panel to review the results.

In her book The Truth About Statins, Dr. Barbara H. Roberts gives risk factors for developing ASCVD: atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, or what might be called Immunosuppression of the cardiovascular system. The first list can be modified:

  1. Smoking

  2. Abnormal levels of cholesterol/triglycerides

  3. High blood pressure

  4. Diabetes

  5. Obesity

  6. Sedentary lifestyle

  7. Inflammation

Note: I have none of the above.

The second list can’t be modified:

  1. Age

  2. Family History

The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing ASCVD or immunosuppression of the cardiovascular system. I write all this wondering how many of the immunosuppressed individuals fighting coronavirus are immunosuppressed due to risk factors that can be modified. If we could improve our immune system’s chance of fighting the virus, wouldn’t we?

These are the thoughts that have been running through my head as we continue to globally fight this virus, and it compels me to believe in the importance of the individual actions we take to not get infected.

I know that many have no control over the health of their immune systems. And it is for these individuals that we employ such great safety precautions against Covid-19 on a larger scale. As for me, I will continue to “Fight, fight, fight!” to keep my immune system strong, and my arteries plaque-free (or at least greatly improved) in order to avoid taking statins!

I recommend that we all do a self analysis of the status of our current health, taking any unique risk factors in to account, so that we can take an active role in boosting our own immune systems. Start with drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and getting around 30 minutes of exercise a day.

Be well!

1. Shiel Jr., William C. MD, FACP, FACR. “Medical Definition of Immunosuppression.”

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