Heart Disease Risk and Fibrinogen

What you need to know about the heart disease.

Fibrinogen is a protein that helps your blood clot (picture the fibers in a cloth soaking up liquid). That’s a good thing unless, as too often happens, you wind up with too much of a good

Then fibrinogen plays a role in the development of coronary heart disease (CHD) by making blood thick and sticky — just what your arteries don’t need. Studies published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation found that people with high levels of fibrinogen were more than twice as likely to die of a heart attack as those with low levels.

As with most cardiac risk factors, the effects of fibrinogen are influenced by the company it keeps. This marker may not mean all that much if you don’t have any other major cardiac risk factors that make you more prone to plaque formation. But if you do, your fibrinogen level becomes more important.

By the Numbers

The normal range for fibrinogen is 170-450mg/dl.

Quick Tips

    • Quit smoking.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Eat a balanced diet. These three factors induce the body to produce more fibrinogen.
    • De-stress. A 2002 Dutch study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that a mental state known as “vital exhaustion” (which is just what its name implies — a state of excessive fatigue, irritability, and hopelessness) correlates with high levels of fibrinogen.
    • Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish and fish-oil supplements), which have been shown to reduce fibrinogen levels.
    • Moderate alcohol consumption. This small change can reduce fibrinogen levels up to 20 percent.
  • Take a daily low-dose aspirin. For most people at increased risk for coronary heart disease, aspirin can reduce blood clots through its anti-inflammatory and anticlotting activity.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest