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 thing. Then fibrinogen plays a role in the development of CHD by making blood thick and sticky—just what your arteries don’t need. Studies

journal Circulation in 2000 found that people with high levels of fibrinogen were more than

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,

This protein makes blood thick and sticky—just what your arteries don't need.

By the numbers

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

How the Plan Can Help

High cholesterol, smoking, inactivity, and a poor diet all seem to induce the body to produce more fibrinogen. The Plan will help with all of these. It will also protect you in another important way by teaching you to relax.

For some reason, fibrinogen levels are related to stress. People with stressful occupations and lower socioeconomic standing tend to have higher levels. In fact, 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. The study also linked it to less early-morning fibrinolysis, the process by which blood clots break down.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce fibrinogen levels, and you’ll get plenty of those on the Plan through fish and fish-oil supplements. And moderate alcohol consumption, also a part of the Plan for most participants, can reduce fibrinogen levels up to 20 percent. In addition, the Live It Down Plan’s daily low-dose aspirin for most people at increased risk for CHD can reduce blood clots through its anti inflammatory and anticlotting activity.

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