Health Update: Inflammation and Your Heart and Vascular Health

Hello again everyone:

 As you know, I pretty much constantly report that inflammation causes, aggravates, and perpetuates virtually all chronic health conditions, but I have never mentioned how it contributes to vascular damage and subsequent heart attacks or stroke. As you know, cardio-vascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in our country, and here is a paper that outlines it clearly. Although this paper is from 2007, it is remarkably up to date:

“Inflammation plays a major role in all phases of atherosclerosis. Stable plaques are characterized by a chronic inflammatory infiltrate, whereas vulnerable and ruptured plaques are characterized by an “active” inflammation involved in the thinning of the fibrous cap, predisposing the plaque to rupture. Although a single vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque rupture may cause the event, there are many other types of plaques, several of which are vulnerable. The existence of multiple types of vulnerable plaques suggests that atherosclerosis is a diffuse inflammatory process. A current challenge is to identify morphologic and molecular markers able to discriminate stable plaques from vulnerable ones, allowing the stratification of patients at high risk for acute cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events before clinical syndromes develop. With that aim in mind, this article summarizes the natural history of atherosclerotic plaques, focusing on molecular mechanisms affecting plaque progression and serum markers correlated with plaque inflammation.”

Bottom Line: Now you can see how vital it is that we all monitor and lower our inflammatory burden. You can also see how the immune system is involved as the author’s state:

The evolution of atheromas (vascular plaques including those that can rupture and cause heart attacks or stroke) is modulated by innate and adaptive immune responses.” 

And if a plaque becomes vulnerable and ‘ripens’ to the point it can rupture, it is always correlated with the presence of a diffuse inflammatory process.” 

What this means to you is that you should do whatever it takes to lower your total inflammatory burden and keep your immune system balanced. The article goes on to state a list of lab tests that can identify your underlying inflammatory status, and we always evaluate patients for the majority of these markers. The conclusion of the article says it best:

“CONCLUSION: Because atherosclerosis is now recognized as a diffuse, multisystemic, and chronic inflammatory disorder involving the vascular, metabolic, and immune systems, with various local and systemic manifestations, it is essential to assess total patient vulnerability and not just search for a single, unstable plaque.”

 A great way to lower your inflammatory burden is to commit to eating a clean, organic, plant-food based version of the Mediterranean Diet!! Protect your heart and total health and eat delicious food too!!

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