Many dogmatic paradigms exist within medicine, and cardiology is no different. By conventional understanding, heart cell regeneration is nothing more than science fiction, but new research suggests otherwise. Cardiac muscle cells do obtain some ability for division, and despite the abuse from lifestyle factors, the human heart can renew itself (1).
Despite this good news, heart disease remains the global leading cause of death! For those who actually survive a heart attack, conventional treatment options are slim, primarily down to the assumed belief that healing the heart is impossible. Fear, anxiety and stress have all been shown to be significant psychological factors in heart disease. Meta Analysis has concluded that anxiety is an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease and cardiac mortality (2). Also, the correlation between panic disorders and heart disease is strong. It should come as no surprise that chronic and even acute stress is predictive of heart disease. When we experience chronic stress, our levels of free-radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) rise viciously. This rise in inflammatory free radicals causes heart cell dysfunction, hypertension, arterial plaque, and the remodelling of blood vessels (3).
What has 2020, and 2021 been, other than one dominant stressful, anxiety ridden,
fear-fest? Why is there no focus on reducing these insidious killers? Especially when we know they kill more people than anything. I believe the answer to these questions is for another blog post, but it saddens me to see fast food and liquor stores wide open for business, and then see parks, gyms, and meditation centres all closed, under the guise of health. Maybe organizations including Health Canada don't have our best interests at heart. Check out Episode 10 - The Insidious side of Health Canada on our podcast. It will certainly make you have second thoughts on the "Health" in Health Canada.
Let's get back to heart health, and the root of it. The main cause of heart disease is not issues with cholesterol (something we have been incorrectly repeatably told), but continuous injury and repair to your endothelium. The endothelium is the thin membrane, which acts as your ultimate security barrier between the blood and your tissues. Inflammation drives this continual injury and repair dance.
This damage doesn't allow your blood vessels to constrict (close) and dilate (open) normally, so blood cannot go where it needs to go efficiently.
It is important to note the endothelium is one of the largest organs you have, and it lines your entire circulatory system. It's a big deal (4).
The ability for your endothelium to relax and contract during normal life situations determines health. If you cannot do this effectively, then blood pressure will occur.
The endothelium is also responsible for the transmit of fluids and electrolytes, and the movement of white blood cells. In a healthy body, the flow of these important cells and molecules will engage with all organs and tissues of the body.
In an unhealthy body, perhaps from smoking, obesity, dehydration, poor dietary habits, etc, we see the endothelium become damaged and resort to a blood clotting mechanism in response to this reoccurring inflammatory state (5). This is the true cause of heart disease. Later in the month, we will discuss The Big Fat Lie of Heart Health - cholesterol and saturated fat. Have a lovely week!
Simon Brazier. Dip HN, NNCP