Coronary Heart Disease is our single most common cause of death and it is caused by something called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a fancy term for “your vessels get more narrow due to plaques and that reduces the blood flow to whichever organ that vessel is going to.” IF you have atherosclerosis of the coronary artery, then you have obstruction of blood flow to the heart…..hello, coronary heart disease: the number one killer. Most people people are familiar with the most common form of coronary heart disease known as a HEART ATTACK!
Symptoms of the early stages:
- During physical activity, people may experience chest pain that may go into the neck and left arm. The pain goes away after rest in the early stages.
- Fatigue during normal activities. This is due to the lack of blood supply to the heart, so you feel fatigued doing normal activity.
Symptoms of heart attack:
- Severe chest pain not connected to physical activity.
- Fear, cold sweats, nausea
Given the fact that autopsies show that by the age of 60, 100% of people have some signs of atherosclerosis, it’s not surprising that people want to know what to do when the doc starts talking about this when they go in for their exam!
What causes atherosclerosis?
People have been led to believe that cholesterol and dietary fats are the root of all this nonsense. We’ve all had someone we know quit eating meat and eggs and opted for non-fat products in attempts to correct the cholesterol issues on their labwork. This is a myth you need to get comfortable rejecting, so keep an open mind here. Atherosclerosis is an INFLAMMATORY condition! The plaques on the wall of arteries are not cholesterol stuck; it’s actually more like a damaged portion of the artery wall that is covered with a bunch of stuff, but the main component is actually tissue trying to repair that is mostly made from collagen. The fat part of the plaque is mostly UNSATURATED FATS. This is complex, but the gist is:
- Something in the bloodstream attacks the artery tissue
- Immune cells come to the rescue to destroy whatever is attacking the artery tissue
- Those immune cells call for more help by sending out the bat signal known as inflammation
- As the body is trying to repair the damage, it grows more collagen and creates a cap on top of the plaque
- When the inflammation stops, it becomes hard and calcium may take up shop there. This is like a scar. THIS WOULD BE NORMAL AND WE ALL HAVE SOME SCARS IN OUR ARTERIES.
- In atherosclerosis, the inflammation doesn’t stop and it forms something similar to puss in a wound.
- Inflammation is driving the production of enzymes that break down collagen and if the cap over the area gets weak? Boom. Rupture.
- Within second, the blood tries to thicken to stop bleeding, a clot forms, and the artery is blocked or a portion of it can break off and float downstream and stuck in another location. This is what we all really fear.
Why avoiding cholesterol isn’t helpful:
The body uses fats and cholesterol as the building blocks for creating new cells and tissues in any healing process. This is because a huge part of a cell is the membrane and it acts sort of like your skin. Without it, what would hold in your insides?! Those membranes are made out of fat and cholesterol and if you want to get geeky, many cells in the body have 50% of the membrane made from cholesterol. THE REASON WE SEE CHOLESTEROL IN AREAS OF PLAQUING IS BECAUSE THAT IS YOUR BODY’S ATTEMPT TO REPAIR THE DAMAGE TO THAT TISSUE! It’s like saying umbrellas must cause it to rain, because every time it rains, I see all these people holding umbrellas. Cholesterol is the umbrella. It’s there BECAUSE OF THE TISSUE DAMAGE, not causing it.
Ok, so let’s cut to the chase. You understand what I’m saying, so now you want to know what causes that arterial damage that starts this whole thing in the first place. Without further adieu, let’s look at a list…
- Chemicals: chemicals in your beauty products, medications, home cleaning products, cigarettes, pesticides, water, processed food. I bet you had no idea that even what you slather on your skin goes straight to the bloodstream and could be contributing to heart problems! Stay woke. (If you don’t know what that means, it’s ok, just keep reading)
- Infections: if you have issues with the barriers between the outside world and inside of your body like gum disease, leaky gut, sinus infections, etc, then you basically have a highway for pathogens to get into your bloodstream and wreak havoc wherever they see fit, which means not just your arteries. This is also a huge problem with autoimmune diseases and cognitive issues. I bet you didn’t have any idea your oral hygiene could be a part of your heart disease.
- Nutrient deficiencies: in order to repair, your body needs adequate building blocks and deficiencies in things such as b-vitamins, vitamin c, vitamin D and amino acids set you up for failure. If you have b-vitamin deficiencies, you may see elevation in markers like homocysteine on your labs. If your doc runs complex labs, you may also see vitamin C deficiency pop up as elevated Lipoprotein A. (you have a 70% greater chance of having a heart attack if you have elevated lipoprotein a!)
So, let’s simplify this into some actionable things you could do to help yourself:
- Eat a healthy diet including lots of plants and good sources of healthy fats
- Stop eating processed foods and excessive amounts of sugar
- Clean out your beauty drawer from all the chemical crap (check out this website for information)
- Work with a physician to get off as many medications as possible. This is ironic when it comes to statins because statins cut off your ability to produce cholesterol, ultimately lowering your cholesterol numbers. Knowing what you know now, is cholesterol trying to help heal or trying to hurt your vessels! Bye, Felicia.
- Take B-Vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids (1g for prevention or 3g for someone with active conditions), CoQ10 (100mg for those taking statins and want to prevent issues or 500mg if you are experiencing issues of statin use like forgetfulness or muscle/joint pain). (If you want specific recommendations for the products I prefer, feel free to email me at email@example.com for links to those)
- Stop smoking.
- Start exercising.
Take away points:
- Prevention is key, so don’t wait until you have heart disease to take your diet and lifestyle seriously.
- You MUST be on CoQ10 if you are going to continue to take statins.
- Cholesterol is not the enemy, so do not go low fat in attempts to correct the problem.
Believe it or not, these cases are some of the easiest patient cases I take on! It doesn’t take much time to see drastic changes in someone’s labwork in these cases, and the solutions are pretty simple when you compare them to more complex issues like cancer and autoimmune diseases.