Atherosclerosis and inflammation
Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is caused by plaque build up inside the arteries. This is a correct statement but not a complete statement. We must also ask the question, “What caused the plaque to build up in the arteries”?
Ultimately, plaque forms in the arteries because of inflammatory damage to the arterial lining. Why does this happen? When inflammatory molecules damage an artery the cells that make up the arterial wall begin a healing response. Part of this response is to patch the damaged area so blood does not leak outside of the artery. The patch laid down in the artery contains several different components with the most well-known being cholesterol.
Typicaly, cholesterol gets most of the attention in medicine and inflammation gets overlooked. In fact, statin medications to lower cholesterol are the most commonly prescribed drugs in North America. However, inflammation is the ultimate initiating factor in the formation of atherosclerosis and should be addressed accordingly in the treatment and prevention of atherosclerosis.
The most important conventional laboratory tests to run for inflammation include Highly Sensitive C-Reactive Protein, Lipoprotein (a), and Homocysteine. Unfortunately, these markers are rarely tested for in the conventional medical system because the focus has shifted to testing and treating cholesterol. This is not to say that cholesterol is not an important marker but the evaluation is incomplete without more thorough testing.
So, what are the causes of inflammation and what can you do to stop the formation of atherosclerosis? Inflammation can be caused by a number of different factors and most of these factors can be identified and treated naturally.
But, before you jump on the newest and greatest anti-inflammatory or antioxidant supplement, it is much more effective to remove the causes of inflammation rather than merely supplementing to mitigate the damage. This is not to say that these supplements should be avoided but rather used in conjunction with treatments that remove the causes of inflammation.
If you are concerned about inflammation, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, or are interested in an evaluation for the cardiovascular system it is important to seek professional advice from a physician who will evaluate all the possible causes of cardiovascular disease and provide holistic treatment that does not solely rely on the use of medication.
If you are interested in more information or would like to schedule a consultation please visit my website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com or contact by office at 250-860-8855.
In next week’s column we will examine the most significant causes of inflammation and discuss the most important treatments for removing those causes and restoring health to the cardiovascular system.
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