Heart Disease

Heart disease and the inflammation connection

Numerous studies have shown that chronic inflammation may be the catalyst for heart disease. There are dozens of theories which attempt to explain the cause of atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis. The most widely accepted theory is based on the idea that injury to the arterial wall from inflammation, high blood pressure, elevated LDL, etc., initiates physiological changes that then create atherosclerosis.

The endothelial lining of the artery becomes damaged from physical, chemical, viral, bacterial, or immune reactions. Once damaged, the injured tissue becomes more permeable to lipoproteins (fat-carrying proteins). The arterial linings connective tissue begins to deteriorate, which attracts cholesterol deposits. Large white blood cells known as monocytes and blood clotting platelets attach themselves to the injured area causing plaque to form. A fibrous cap (consisting of collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycans) forms over the injured area.

Cholesterol and fat begin to build-up around the site and an arthroma is formed. The arthroma of fibrous coated plaque may continue to grow until it eventually blocks the flow of blood through the artery. It usually takes a ninety percent blockage before the symptoms of atherosclerosis is experienced. Arthromas may calcify, hardening in a process known as arteriosclerosis. Atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries may lead to thrombosis (blood clot formation) which manifests itself as angina (chest pain) or a heart attack. Atherosclerosis of the cerebral (brain) arteries may trigger a stroke.

Fibrinogen is a protein that is involved in regulating blood clotting and platelet clumping. Fibrinogen is increased by inflammation, oxidative damage, smoking, stress, oral contraceptives, and aging. The New England of Medicine reports that those with elevated levels of fibrinogen were more than twice as likely to die of a heart attack. Research shows that it is best to keep fibrinogen levels below 300mg/dl.

Helpful Supplements for the heart

Garlic acts as a natural blood thinner. This helps prevent the clotting associated with excess fibrinogen levels.Recommended dose is 4,000 mcg a day.

Fish oil supplementation helps to reduce fibrinogen levels. Recommended dose is 4-9 grams a day.

Ginkgo Biloba has over 300 clinical trial that support its use in the management of cardiovascular and cognitive disorders. Ginkgo acts as a vasodilator to lower blood pressure, improves blood flow to the extremities (legs), and reduces fibrinogen levels. One study showed that 40mg of ginkgo taken twice a day reduced the symptoms associated with intermittent claudication (decreased circulation to the legs) up to 45 percent. Recommended dose is 120mg a day.

C-Reactive Protein
C-Reactive protein (CRP) is a marker associated with inflammation. A study reported in the New England Journal Medicine found that CRP is a strong predictor of heart attack and stroke. Men with the highest percentage points had three times the risk of heart attack and twice the risk for stroke.

I recommend my patient’s with elevated CRP levels begin taking 6-9 grams of fish oil along with the Healthy Heart Formula.

Those with arteriosclersosis (as shown with testing) or who have had a heart attack or stroke are placed on nattokinase.

For a more in-depth look at inflammation, arteriosclerosis, and heart disease, “Heart Disease What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You” is available at Barnes and Noble or online.

Related links

Effective and Safe Alternatives for Treating Heart Disease and Hypertension

Potential Dangers of Cardiovascular Drugs

Congestive Heart Failure