Anti aging guide

Atherosclerosis and Heart Disease



How Atherosclerosis could cause heart disease with the hardening of the arteries

Atherosclerosis, meaning ‘hardening of the arteries’, is blamed for almost every illness: angina, heart attacks, stroke, impotence, pain in the legs during walking, dizziness and memory problems.

Atherosclerosis may start in childhood, with a build-up of cholesterol and other fatty deposits within the wall of the arteries. This build-up continues slowly over the years, causing loss of elasticity and furring (calcification) of the arteries, like the inside of a kettle, with eventual blockage of the blood flow. The process is sped up in smokers, in overweight people and in those who have excessive stress or high cholesterol in their blood.

Cold weather makes the blood clot more easily. This means that in the winter, people who have atherosclerosis have a higher risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke or thrombosis. If you are at risk, you should take cold weather seriously and try to keep warm whatever you do.

Treatment for atherosclerosis is by:

  • Drugs or diet to lower cholesterol
  • Aspirin
  • Control of the blood pressure
  • Surgery in serious cases

Thinning blood with aspirin

Aspirin eases the flow of blood through the arteries by reducing its stickiness, making the blood less likely to clot. It can reduce the symptoms of angina and the risk of stroke and heart disease. Bear in mind that one side effect of taking aspirin is bleeding in the stomach in sensitive individuals.

Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce cholesterol and improve stickiness of the blood. These are found not only in oily fish, but also in olive oil, flax seed oil and perilla oil. Omega-3 oils help relieve almost all problems associated with atherosclerosis. Flax seed oil can be used in salads or on boiled potatoes and in capsule form. Perilla or canola oil are available in liquid form from natural food stores.

Exercising to fight atherosclerosis

Exercise is to atherosclerosis what water is to fire. Regular exercise dampens the effects of atherosclerosis and it is one of the strongest weapons in our fight against this disease. Exercise doesn’t need to be performed in the gym in order to be effective. Regular home exercises can provide enough muscle strength and stamina too.

Regular exercise increases the activity of clot-busting enzymes in the body, such as tPA (tissue plasminogen activator). This enzyme is given as a life-saving treatment to heart attack victims to reduce clotting of the blood.

Vitamin K and the heart arteries

Researchers are currently exploring the benefits of vitamin K on the arteries. Vitamin K is essential for healthy bones, clean arteries and for balancing the clotting of blood. This vitamin throws a spanner in the works of certain mechanisms responsible for atherosclerosis. Too low a concentration of vitamin K in the blood is related to a high risk of atherosclerosis. Some scientists also say that vitamin K has a positive role to play in preventing Alzheimer’s dementia.

To complicate matters, though, many older people have low vitamin K concentration in their blood. The reason for this is not known.

Vitamin K is usually found in leafy vegetables but antibiotics may reduce it in the gut. It is also available in tablet form but not widely used as a supplement yet.

One complementary treatment for atherosclerosis is naturopathy. This recommends general lifestyle improvements, a high fiber diet, stress reduction and exercise. The diet should contain extra fruit and salads for antioxidants, as well as oily fish to boost the intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

Posted by Carol Hudgens - March 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm