Can you break the “Rule of 60” 21. April 2007 William Davis (1) In the Track Your Plaque program, we aim for conventional lipid values (LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides) of 60—60—60, i.e., LDL 60 mg/dl, HDL 60 mg/dl or greater, triglycerides 60 mg/dl. Most participants do indeed reach these target values. When I tell this to colleagues, they’re stunned. “You can’t possibly get those numbers in most people.” And I can sympathize with their plight. After all, they are stuck with relatively lame tools: statin drugs, the American Heart Association diet. I’d be surprised if they ever achieved 60—60—60. But can you drop your heart scan score even if you don’t reach the 60—60—60 targets? Yes, you can. The Rule of 60 is only a guideline, a tool that helps more people achieve our goals. The Rule of 60 does not guarantee reversal (drop in heart scan score), nor does not achieving the targets completely destroy your chances. We have had many people drop their scores even if they haven’t reached the targets. On the other hand, we’ve also had people who failed at first, only to see success once they achieved the 60 mg/dl targets. But which one are you? That’s the problem. We possess limited capacity to predict who will or who will not drop their scores from the start. We know that there are factors that stack the odds in your favor (e.g., optimism, lack of Lp(a), ideal weight, vitamin D >50 ng/ml, etc.). We know that there are factors that make it tougher (overweight, Lp(a), pessimistic attitude, underappreciated hypertension, higher heart scan scores, etc.) But at the start, we just don’t know who truly needs to adhere to the Rule of 60. So we suggest that everyone, at least in the beginning, aim to achieve it. I had an exception the other day. Rich did everything by the Track Your Plaque book. However, a starting low HDL of 27 only rose to 37 after one year of effort—way below our 60 mg/dl target. Yet a repeat heart scan showed 23% reduction. Why would Rich be so successful despite a persistently very low HDL? There may be a number of reasons. One explanation could be that conventional measures of HDL fail to distinguish between what HDLs truly work and what do not. Look at ApoA1 Milano; remember this story? The people in the secluded mountain village of Limone-Sul-Garde in northern Italy have HDL cholesterols of 8-15 mg/dl yet do not experience excess vascular atherosclerosis, suggesting that what little HDL they have is super-effective.Yes, large HDL seem to be more healthy and effective than small HDL, but perhaps there’s more to it. However, nobody has a HDL effectiveness test ready for us to use. In the meantime, we continue to suggest that the Track Your Plaque Rule of 60 be considered as a means of making plaque reversal as likely as possible. You and your doctor can always adjust in future, depending on your heart scan score results.