By Dr. Karen Bender
What is Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular disease is a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels. CVD includes coronary artery disease (CAD) such as angina (chest pain)and myocardial infarction(commonly known as a heart attack) and stroke. There are many other conditions that fall into the category of CVD but this article will focus on the conditions related to the development of atherosclerotic plaques. When these plaques builds up in the walls of the arteries they become more narrow. This makes it harder for blood to flow through the vessels. If a blood clot forms, it can block the blood flow completely. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.
CVD is the leading cause of death worldwide. It resulted in 17.9 million deaths, 32.1% of all total deaths, in 2015. This is an increase from 12.3 million (25.8% of total deaths) in 1990.
What are the Root Causes of CVD?
There are many factors that can contribute to the development CVD.
- High blood pressure: accounts for about 13% of deaths
- Smoking/tobacco 9%
- Diabetes: 6%
- Lack of exercise 6%
- Obesity 5%
- Chronic stress
- High blood cholesterol
- Poor diet
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress underlie all of these factors that contribute to the development of CVD.
How can it be treated and prevented?
Prevention can be best achieved by avoiding known factors that contribute to its development. Getting regular exercise, managing stress, eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruits, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are all known health promoting lifestyle choices that help prevent obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and diabetes. When these conditions are prevented the risk of developing CVD is also greatly reduced.
In addition to adopting these lifestyle choices. there are a number of other interventions that can help treat and prevent chronic inflammation and counteract oxidative stress. Therapeutic interventions to address chronic inflammation include:
- SPMs (Specialized Pro-resolving Mediators)
- Omega 3 Fatty acids from fish or fish oil supplements
- Red Light Therapy
- Antioxidants from food and supplements
- Anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric
The most commonly known lab tests done to assess risk for developing CVD is a cholesterol panel. While this can be an indicator of risk, it does not paint a complete picture. Other tests that can be done to assess your risk include:
- uric acid
- Apolipoprotein A and B
- Heavy Metal levels (can contribute to high blood pressure)
- blood sugar and insulin
- Visceral fat levels
- Gut Inflammation testing
Are you curious what your risk for CVD is? Would you like to have a more comprehensive treatment approach to treating all the root causes of CVD? Make an appointment today for a comprehensive and personalized treatment plan.