Calculate Your Heart Attack Risk Online

Did you know there are quick, easy-to-use, online calculators that will tell you how likely you are to have a heart attack in the next 10 years?

There are several, in fact.  Most of these online risk calculators are based on the Framingham risk score, which assesses heart disease risk in the next 10 years based on six pieces of information: age, sex, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, smoking status and systolic blood pressure.

The Reynolds risk score goes beyond the Framingham risk score.  In addition to all the factors required by the Framingham risk score, the Reynolds risk score asks for C-reactive protein test results (which are not included in a typical lipid panel) and whether a parent had a heart attack before age 60.

While these online calculators are certainly not the be all and end all, they can be very handy in discussing with your doctor whether (and how long) you can manage high cholesterol without turning to statin Rx medication.  You can read about how these heart disease risk calculators work and where to find them online in my recently published article on Calculating Heart Disease Risk.

And you can find a link to the American Heart Association’s Risk Calculator – born when the 2013 guidelines debuted – on my RESOURCES page.


Grapefruit Pros and Cons

In all the ‘bazillion ways to lower cholesterol’ lists I’ve read, not once did I see grapefruit listed. Well, it may have been listed (I don’t like grapefruit so it’s entirely possible likely I, um, skipped by it) but grapefruit is certainly not prominent on any list of foods that can help lower cholesterol.

And yet, apparently, it should be.

At least according to a 2006 (small) Israeli study posted online in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. While the study is a few years old and included just  57 people, these were a pretty motivated group IMHO: they’d been unsuccessful lowering cholesterol with Rx statins, had suffered through heart surgery and still needed to reduce their cholesterol. My gut tells me they were a pretty compliant group.

WebMd’s Grapefruit May Improve Cholesterol article explains this study and its results:

“The researchers split the patients into three groups. For 30 days, all groups ate a low-calorie, low-fat diet. One group added a daily red grapefruit. Another group got a white grapefruit every day. For comparison, the third group didn’t eat any grapefruit during the study.

The red grapefruit group improved their cholesterol most, followed by the white grapefruit group. They ended up with notably lower total cholesterol and LDL (“bad” cholesterol) than the comparison group.

The red grapefruit group also improved their triglycerides (blood fats). Triglycerides didn’t change much for the other two groups.”

Red grapefruit alone seems to have lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol and tryigycerides!

Why is this barely out there?  Why, if grapefruit – grapefruit, people – can help lower cholesterol, why is this not widely touted?

It must be because grapefruit can cause serious medical issues IF it’s consumed along with one of many, many medications (the list – see quote below – is startlingly long and broad).

As explained in my recent article, ‘Grapefruit Danger‘, the juice of grapefruit changes the rate certain drugs are absorbed into the bloodstream. With several cholesterol-lowering drugs, grapefruit juice can boost the level of statin to potentially dangerous levels.

However, it’s not just statins that interact with grapefruit.

Shela Gorinstein, PhD, one of the authors of the above Israeli study says, “…remember to check with your doctor first if you take any medicine, even if it’s not a cholesterol-lowering drug. Other types of medications that can interact with grapefruit juice include drugs for blood pressure, heart rhythm, depression, anxiety, HIV, immunosuppression, allergies, impotence, and seizures.”

Because grapefruit juice interacts with such a broad variety of prescription medication, my guess is that it’s been intentionally omitted from the lists of cholesterol-lowering foods. Which is understandable, I guess – but a huge shame.  Because for those of us not on any Rx meds, maybe grapefruit can keep us off statins!

As I don’t take any prescription meds other than Nexium (which is not on the many-drugs-grapefruit-interacts-with-list), I think I’m going to try me some red grapefruit.

Even though I despise its puckery taste.

Because if I can lower my triglycerides with grapefruit, I can eliminate my nightly wine misgivings. And puckery in the morning is a small price to pay for guilt-free wine in the evening.

I wonder if I can put my Metamucil in red grapefruit juice?  I’ll have to get back to you on that.



New Role: Cholesterol ‘Expert’ for

A few months ago, I got an email from the online behemoth about this very blog: they liked Going Lo-Co (!!) and asked if I’d be interested in becoming an category expert. After a writing test, an editing test, and much back-and-forthing, I am pleased to announce that I am now publishing articles as the cholesterol ‘category expert’ on

Check out the overall cholesterol page; it has many useful articles, a few I’ve written and many written by others.  It’s a good place to learn more about cholesterol.

Want to know more about me? Check out my ‘Cholesterol Expert Profile Page’ on There you’ll find a bit more about my ‘expert’ background, as well as a Q&A explaining why I write about cholesterol.

And finally, here are links to the first five articles I published on

I’ve created a new page on Going Lo-Co, and will publish links to all my articles on the new Going Lo-Co Expert page.