How Soon Would You Like That to Happen?

The problem with your heart is this. If you live long enough, if something else doesn’t take you out first, your heart is going to quit beating. That is why age is the highest risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The question is NOT will you die from heart failure because you likely will. The question is HOW SOON WOULD YOU LIKE THAT TO HAPPEN?

Assuming you would prefer to delay your demise as long as possible, let’s look at how you can encourage that postponement.

The lining of your blood vessels

There are about 60,000 miles of blood vessels in an adult body, give or take. Every mile is lined with one layer of endothelial cells covered with glycocalyx. Glycocalyx are like a bunch of slick hair which allow the contents of the blood to move smoothly on through. The glycocalyx

  • keeps the vessel dilated (not constricted) thus keeping blood pressure lower,
  • provides anticoagulant (stop blood clotting) and
  • increases production of new endothelial cells to take the place of damaged/dead cells. Just being alive creates damage and the body is prepared to repair it and move on. It’s a clever design.

When the lining “fails”

The endothelial layer intends to keep blood from escaping.  When blood actually penetrates the layer a veritable cascade of things happen to clot the blood and seal over the damage. This is actually the backup plan activated by your body when maintenance of the endothelial/glycocalyx layer fails. If the backup plan fails, you have heart failure or bleed to death.

Perhaps you would like to know more detail about this process. There are many thousands of articles and research papers explaining the parts of this complex process but few that package the parts together in a helpful way. I find this podcast between Ivor Cummins and Dr. Malcolm Kendrick works well to describe and explain without going too deep. Dr Kendrick is the author of The Great Cholesterol Con.

So now! What do we know?

Failure of this protective layer happens when the damage exceeds the repair capactiy?  Failure of this protective layer is the beginning of cardiovascular disease. Think about that for just a minute.

Sufficient and chronic failure of the lining is breakage that requires the backup plan. The more often things go wrong, the more damage control is required, the greater the chance that blood clots, accumulated plaque,, and plaque rupture will take you out early. It is the “sufficient and chronic failure” that involves your doctor finding ways to, in some fashion, control all that.

There is no one thing all by itself that causes cardiovascular disease

To help avoid your doctor’s involvement and delay heart/cardiovascular issues as long as possible, be sure you understand this. There is no one thing that causes cardiovascular disease all by itself. Rather it will be the combination of things that result in chronic lining damage, damage that exceeds your personal repair capacity.

While a number of things have potential to damage the vessel lining, here are what seem to be the big hitters.

The big hitter list

  • High blood sugar and high insulin both damage the blood vessel lining. The more these are your issues the more the damage becomes chronic. The goal is low (normal) blood sugar and insulin. High blood sugar/insulin are  first here on the big hitter list because the American diet makes them more common every day.  In other words, its usually a diet management issue, even for a type 1 diabetic.
  • High blood pressure creates major stress at certain points in arteries. The structure of the arterial system in the heart and into the brain creates natural stress. High blood pressure just increases that stress. High blood pressure is frequently caused by the absence of nitric oxide which is generated in the glycocalyx. The arteries are thus constricted.  Proton pump inhibitors (like Prilosec) also reduce nitric oxide. How to increase nitric oxide? Avoid proton pump inhibitors and any of the other things that damage the glycocalyx. Then add exercise, deep breathing through the nose, and sunlight, all of which increase nitric oxide.
  • Inflammation is a normal part of the body’s natural healing process. However it is supposed to be temporary and then go away. Anything that causes persistent inflammation in the body anywhere is doing damage to the lining. That would include autoimmune diseases, arthritis, asthma, infections, etc. Immune suppressants treating persistent inflammation, usually steroids, also damage the lining.
  • Immune suppressants do just what you would expect. They block the immune system which, unfortunately, blocks the normal healing processes as well. One of those healing processes is repair of the blood vessel lining. Thus it is a two “parter”, more damage done, less ability to repair. This is a reason why organ transplant patients on immune suppresants  are so susceptible to heart disease.
  • Smoking and other environmental pollution arrive in the blood stream through your lungs and particularly damage the glycocalyx. Examples?  Lead, mold, mercury, coal dust etc. etc.

Delay your demise (live longer)

  • Control your blood sugar and insulin requirement through your diet. My book, It’s All About the Food, provides the direction you need to manage your diet.
  • Figure out what is triggering your autoimmune disease(s) and stop the trigger to avoid inflammation and immune suppressants. This post, Autoimmune -What is it? will help you to understand the likely triggers of autoimmune responses.  These two posts, There was no way that Food Could be Causing This but She Was Wrong and Peter, Miriam and Jack Autoimmune Recoveries provide examples.
  • If the inflammation cannot be avoided and would kill you if not suppressed (as in organ transplants), then be all the more alert to other contributors.
  • And finally, stop smoking and avoid identifiable environmental pollutants. Exercise, breathe deeply, and get some sun exposure.