Inflammation Speeds Up Hardening of the Arteries
A new European study shows that elevated levels of particular bodily
chemicals that cause or indicate blood vessel inflammation actually
trigger a rapid worsening of hardening of the arteries. Normally if
a person has some hardening of the coronary arteries (the arteries
feeding the heart blood and oxygen), they can experience chest pain
during physical exertion, unfortunately the doctors are not able to
predict how quickly this can progress, increasing the risk of stroke
or heart attack. This may be the first study to show that increased
levels of particular inflammatory markers can predict how rapidly
narrowing of the arteries can progress to a dangerous stage. These
chemicals - C-reactive protein, neopterin, MMP-9, and slCAM signify
that there is current inflammation in blood vessels, and this predicts
the rapidity of the worsening of artery blockage.
Researchers followed 124 patients with coronary artery disease and
chest pain for 3 to 12 months. These individuals never had a stroke
or heart attack due to their condition. Imaging tests were performed
initially and after 3 months, or 12 months to assess the degree of
arterial plaque build up. 28% of these individuals had a significant
progression of their heart disease. Of these almost half had a 10%
reduction in the diameter of their arteries, 25% had a 30% or greater
reduction, and almost 20% had a new lesion develop. And about 6%
developed a complete blockage of a coronary artery. The four markers
were higher in the people with a more rapid progression of the disease.
The study appears in the September 21st issue of Circulation, a journal
of the American Heart Association.
Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.
There are nutrients that help protect blood vessels and also help
decrease inflammatory chemicals in the blood vessel walls. Three of
these - Plant Phytosterol Esters, Red Yeast Rice, and Policosanol,
also aid cholesterol control, LDL, and other risk factors. A
combination of Tocopherols and Tocotrienols as a Complete Vitamin
E supplement, especially in conjunction with Coenzyme Q10 aids
control of inflammatory markers. Resveratrol, Green Tea, Fish Oil
supplying EPA and DHA, Grape Seed extract, Aged Garlic, and the
carotenoids Lycopene and Astaxanthin are beneficial for protecting
blood vessel walls. GliSODin and L-Carnosine are very protective.