|Aging|| Premature/Signs of Aging
Being overweight as child
| ||Research has revealed that overweight children face the prospect of developing coronary artery disease by the time they reach middle age, considerably earlier than is “normal,” due to their arteries showing striking similarities to heavy smokers. |
Doctors discovered through the use of ultrasounds observing children’s blood vessels that their arteries were as thick as those of heavy adult smokers. Based on these findings, a cardiologist placed these children at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke as early as their 40s or 50s, as opposed to later in their 70s or 80s.
One study revealed that placing these children on healthier diets and routine exercise regimens for just over one year would turn their health around and bring their blood vessels back to normal again. [Yahoo! News April 28, 2004]
Platelet Aggregation Risk
Excess Sugar Consumption
Low Fiber Intake
| ||In 573 adults, of whom nearly 1/2 were women, between the ages of 40 and 60, there was a significant inverse association seen between intima-media thickness progression of the common carotid arteries and the intake of water-soluble fiber (viscous fiber), which includes pectin, gums and mucilage. [Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78: pp.1085-1091]|
Environment / Toxicity
Cigarette Smoke Damage
| ||Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, more than 50 of which have been identified as carcinogens. These chemicals are extremely damaging to the cardiovascular system. Specifically, these chemicals are carried in the bloodstream on LDL cholesterol, where they either damage the lining of the arteries directly or they damage the LDL molecule which then damages the arteries. High cholesterol levels compound the risks.|
It's well known that smoking cigarettes increases risk for a host of serious health problems from cancer to heart disease. Now a new study from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City looks (Sept 12, 2007) at how they do their dirty work by contributing to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. The evidence points to nicotine, the addictive chemical in cigarettes.
By comparing reduced-nicotine cigarettes like Quest 3 and Eclipse with regular cigarettes, researchers discovered that the extent of cigarette-smoke induced atherosclerosis in mice correlated with the levels of nicotine -- the higher the nicotine, the more disease.
"Right now, the general consensus is that the problem with cigarettes is tar and that nicotine is safe. That's why you can buy nicotine gum or patches to help you stop smoking. Our study presents new evidence that nicotine may not be safe at all, especially for your heart," says Dr. Daniel F. Catanzaro, principal investigator of the study, recently published in the journal Cardiovascular Toxicology. Dr. Catanzaro is associate research professor of physiology and biophysics in the Departments of Medicine and Cardiothoracic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College.
Heart attack(s) in mother
Heart disease in family members
Heart attack(s) in father
Low Estrogen Levels
| ||Low estrogen levels raise LDL-C (bad) cholesterol, while lowering HDL (good) cholesterol, both of which contribute to atherosclerosis. Supplemental estrogen reduces this risk, at least partially by increasing the HDL particle size which confers some protection against heart disease.|
Low Testosterone Level
| ||Researchers at Columbia University Medical School found that serum testosterone levels were about 90ng/dl lower in patients who had suffered myocardial infarctions (MI) than in those who had not. These results suggest that low testosterone levels predispose men to MI and are lower in men with severe coronary artery atherosclerotic disease than in controls.|
Low DHEA Level
| ||Although there is some conflicting evidence, many researchers conclude that maintaining normal levels of DHEA provides some protection against atherosclerosis.|
Elevated LDL/HDL Ratio
| ||LDL is the cholesterol type most commonly thought of as a strong risk factor for atherosclerosis and heart disease. Oxidized LDL and the fraction called Lp-a produce a greater risk. Since HDL cholesterol reduces the risk, low HDL levels are not desirable.|
Elevated Homocysteine Levels
| ||Multiple studies indicate that 15-30% percent of patients with premature occlusive vascular disease have moderately elevated total plasma homocysteine concentrations. [ JAMA 1992; 268: pp.877-81]|
Elevated Total Cholesterol
Lab Values - Chemistries
(Highly) elevated CRP level
(Very) low HDL level
(Borderline) high LDL
Optimal (?) LDL
Excellent HDL level
Absence of aerobic exercise or exercising aerobically somewhat
Exercising aerobically moderately or exercising aerobically frequently
| ||Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, reports on a study that has correlated the degree of carotid arterial atherosclerosis with exaggerated response to mental stress in men under the age of 55. Patients whose blood pressure responses to stressful situations were the strongest were found to have significantly more advanced atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries than those whose blood pressure responses were less salient.|
Although researchers are careful not to say that stress causes atherosclerosis, the evidence clearly points to cardiovascular reactivity to stress as an atherosclerotic risk factor of the same magnitude as smoking, hypertension, insulin resistance, and elevated cholesterol levels. The hypothesis is that, "Frequent and prolonged periods of elevated blood pressure during mental stress may promote mechanical injury to the endothelial lining or cause release of hormones that can promote the build up of plaque." [Circulation Vol. 96, No. 11: pp. 3842-3848]
Moscow scientists stated in October, 2000 that they have shown atherosclerotic plaques in blood vessels are formed because of adrenaline, a hormone that releases during stress.
| ||Depression is emerging as a risk factor for heart disease. A study of 688 women showed that depression and anger are associated with hardening of the arteries in women, in part through physical and behavioral risk factors such as bad cholesterol levels, obesity and smoking. [Psychosomatic Medicine, March/April 2001]|
| ||Researchers conclude that chronically high levels of anxiety are a risk factor for the progression of atherosclerosis, especially in men. [Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2001; 21: pp.136-141]|
Nephrotic Syndrome (NS)
| ||Complications that can arise during treatment for NS include atherosclerosis "hardening of the arteries" and adverse reaction to medications such as steroids.|
Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X)
Vitamin K Requirement
| ||A study of 600 men aged 50-70, found those with a poor vitamin K status had a significantly higher coronary calcium score, indicating an increased risk of atherosclerosis. [Family Practice News, January 1, 2002;32(l): pp. 1-2]|
| ||Manganese strengthens arterial tissues, making them more resistant to plaque formation.|
| ||Experimental studies have demonstrated a correlation between magnesium deficiency and atherosclerosis, but without any clear evidence to determine the mechanisms involved. Magnesium deficiency may affect the atherosclerosis process through several different mechanisms.|
EFA (Essential Fatty Acid) Type 3 Requirement
| ||While there has been much emphasis on low fat diets, there are some intriguing studies that show that a low fat diet may actually increase LDLs and that it may be more important to alter the fats in the diet, decreasing saturated fats and trans fatty acids, and replacing them with poly- and mono-unsaturated fats. Hydrogenated oils are at least, if not more, atherogenic than saturated fats.|
Antioxidant Need/Oxidative Stress w/o Supplements
| ||High-potency antioxidant supplements can reduce atherosclerosis in humans. A study involving 11,178 elderly people over a 9 year period showed that the use of the antioxidant vitamin E reduced the risk of death from all causes by 34%. This effect was strongest for coronary artery disease, where vitamin E reduced death from heart attack by 63%. [American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Aug. 1996]|
Supplements and Medications
Past multiple vitamin supplement use
Absence of supplemental vitamin E
High/moderate dose vitamin E use
Vitamin C supplementation
Multiple vitamin supplement use
Symptoms - Cardiovascular
Symptoms - Environment
Using chlorinated water
| ||There has been more than a coincidental link between the use of chlorinated water and the development of atherosclerosis. This proposed link results from the consumption of chlorinated water and cow's milk. While this will remain controversial until clearly proven or disproven, it would be wise to avoid chlorine exposure and/or cow's milk, especially in individuals at risk for atherosclerosis and heart disease.|
Air pollution exposure
Symptoms - Food - Intake
(High) hydrogenated fat consumption
Moderate/high fruit/vegetable consumption
| ||Intake of fruits, berries and vegetables may reduce cardiovascular disease risk through the beneficial combination of antioxidants, fiber, potassium, magnesium and other phytochemicals. A study looked at the association of the dietary intake of fruits, berries and vegetables with early atherosclerosis, manifested as increased intima-media thickness of the common carotid artery wall (CCA-IMT). The data show that a high fruit, berry and vegetable intake is associated with significantly reduced risk of mortality and IMT thickness in middle-aged Finnish men. Consequently, the findings of this work indicate that diet dominated by plant-derived foods can promote longevity and good cardiovascular health. [Journal of Nutrition 2003;133: pp.199-204]|
Symptoms - Food - Preferences
(Partial) vegetarian diet or raw food/vegan diet
| ||The vegetarian diet promotes stabilization or possible reversal of the atherogenic process.|
Symptoms - Glandular
Poorly controlled diabetes
Reasonably controlled diabetes
Symptoms - Mind - Emotional
Small social support group size or no social support group
Acute: An illness or symptom of sudden onset, which generally has a short duration.
Aneurysm: Localized enlargement of an artery.
Angina: Angina pectoris. Severe, restricting chest pain with sensations of suffocation caused by temporary reduction of oxygen to the heart muscle through narrowed diseased coronary arteries.
Antioxidant: A chemical compound that slows or prevents oxygen from reacting with other compounds. Some antioxidants have been shown to have cancer-protecting potential because they neutralize free radicals. Examples include vitamins C and E, alpha lipoic acid, beta carotene, the minerals selenium, zinc, and germanium, superoxide dismutase (SOD), coenzyme Q10, catalase, and some amino acids, like cystiene. Other nutrient sources include grape seed extract, curcumin, gingko, green tea, olive leaf, policosanol and pycnogenol.
Anxiety: Apprehension of danger, or dread, accompanied by nervous restlessness, tension, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath unrelated to a clearly identifiable stimulus.
Arrhythmia: A condition caused by variation in the regular rhythm of the heartbeat. Arrhythmias may cause serious conditions such as shock and congestive heart failure, or even death.
Arteriosclerosis: A common arterial disorder. Characterized by calcified yellowish plaques, lipids, and cellular debris in the inner layers of the walls of large and medium-sized arteries.
Atherosclerosis: Common form of arteriosclerosis associated with the formation of atheromas which are deposits of yellow plaques containing cholesterol, lipids, and lipophages within the intima and inner media of arteries. This results in a narrowing of the arteries, which reduces the blood and oxygen flow to the heart and brain as well as to other parts of the body and can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or loss of function or gangrene of other tissues.
Calcium: The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.
Cancer: Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.
Cardiac: Pertaining to the heart, also, pertaining to the stomach area adjacent to the esophagus.
Cardiovascular: Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.
Cholesterol: A waxy, fat-like substance manufactured in the liver and found in all tissues, it facilitates the transport and absorption of fatty acids. In foods, only animal products contain cholesterol. An excess of cholesterol in the bloodstream can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.
Coenzyme: A heat stable molecule that must be associated with another enzyme for the enzyme to perform its function in the body. It is necessary in the utilization of vitamins and minerals.
Congestive: Pertaining to accumulation of blood or fluid within a vessel or organ.
CRP: C-reactive protein. A sensitive measure of inflammation in the body.
DHEA: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid produced by the adrenal glands and is the most abundant one found in humans. DHEA may be transformed into testosterone, estrogen or other steroids. It is found in the body as DHEA or in the sulfated form known as DHEA-S. One form is converted into the other as needed.
Diabetes Mellitus: A disease with increased blood glucose levels due to lack or ineffectiveness of insulin. Diabetes is found in two forms; insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile-onset) and non-insulin-dependent (adult-onset). Symptoms include increased thirst; increased urination; weight loss in spite of increased appetite; fatigue; nausea; vomiting; frequent infections including bladder, vaginal, and skin; blurred vision; impotence in men; bad breath; cessation of menses; diminished skin fullness. Other symptoms include bleeding gums; ear noise/buzzing; diarrhea; depression; confusion.
Estrogen: One of the female sex hormones produced by the ovaries.
Fatty Acids: Chemical chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that are part of a fat (lipid) and are the major component of triglycerides. Depending on the number and arrangement of these atoms, fatty acids are classified as either saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated. They are nutritional substances found in nature which include cholesterol, prostaglandins, and stearic, palmitic, linoleic, linolenic, eicosapentanoic (EPA), and decohexanoic acids. Important nutritional lipids include lecithin, choline, gamma-linoleic acid, and inositol.
Free Radical: A free radical is an atom or group of atoms that has at least one unpaired electron. Because another element can easily pick up this free electron and cause a chemical reaction, these free radicals can effect dramatic and destructive changes in the body. Free radicals are activated in heated and rancid oils and by radiation in the atmosphere, among other things.
High-Density Lipoprotein: (HDL): Also known as "good" cholesterol, HDLs are large, dense, protein-fat particles that circulate in the blood picking up already used and unused cholesterol and taking them back to the liver as part of a recycling process. Higher levels of HDLs are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease because the cholesterol is cleared more readily from the blood.
Hormones: Chemical substances secreted by a variety of body organs that are carried by the bloodstream and usually influence cells some distance from the source of production. Hormones signal certain enzymes to perform their functions and, in this way, regulate such body functions as blood sugar levels, insulin levels, the menstrual cycle, and growth. These can be prescription, over-the-counter, synthetic or natural agents. Examples include adrenal hormones such as corticosteroids and aldosterone; glucagon, growth hormone, insulin, testosterone, estrogens, progestins, progesterone, DHEA, melatonin, and thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and calcitonin.
Hydrogenated Fat: Usually containing trans-fatty acids (or simply "trans" fats), hydrogenated fats show up mostly in margarine, shortening and many prepared and processed foods such as cookies, crackers, cakes, potato chips and other deep-fried foods. The best way to spot hydrogenated fats is to read the ingredient lists on foods and identify those listing hydrogenated or "partially" hydrogenated fats.
Hypertension: High blood pressure. Hypertension increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure because it adds to the workload of the heart, causing it to enlarge and, over time, to weaken; in addition, it may damage the walls of the arteries.
Insulin: A hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to elevated blood glucose levels. Insulin stimulates the liver, muscles, and fat cells to remove glucose from the blood for use or storage.
Ischemia: Localized tissue anemia due to obstruction of the inflow of arterial blood.
Low-Density Lipoprotein: (LDL): Also known as "bad" cholesterol, LDLs are large, dense, protein-fat particles composed of a moderate proportion of protein and a high proportion of cholesterol. Higher levels of LDLs are associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
Magnesium: An essential mineral. The chief function of magnesium is to activate certain enzymes, especially those related to carbohydrate metabolism. Another role is to maintain the electrical potential across nerve and muscle membranes. It is essential for proper heartbeat and nerve transmission. Magnesium controls many cellular functions. It is involved in protein formation, DNA production and function and in the storage and release of energy in ATP. Magnesium is closely related to calcium and phosphorus in body function. The average adult body contains approximately one ounce of magnesium. It is the fifth mineral in abundance within the body--behind calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. Although about 70 percent of the body's magnesium is contained in the teeth and bones, its most important functions are carried out by the remainder which is present in the cells of the soft tissues and in the fluid surrounding those cells.
Manganese: An essential mineral found in trace amounts in tissues of the body. Adults normally contain an average of 10 to 20mg of manganese in their bodies, most of which is contained in bone, the liver and the kidneys. Manganese is essential to several critical enzymes necessary for energy production, bone and blood formation, nerve function and protein metabolism. It is involved in the metabolism of fats and glucose, the production of cholesterol and it allows the body to use thiamine and Vitamin E. It is also involved in the building and degrading of proteins and nucleic acid, biogenic amine metabolism, which involves the transmitting of nerve impulses.
Menopause: The cessation of menstruation (usually not official until 12 months have passed without periods), occurring at the average age of 52. As commonly used, the word denotes the time of a woman's life, usually between the ages of 45 and 54, when periods cease and any symptoms of low estrogen levels persist, including hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, loss of libido and vaginal dryness. When these early menopausal symptoms subside, a woman becomes postmenopausal.
Mucilage: Preparation consisting of a solution in water of the viscous principles of plants; used as a soothing application to mucous membranes.
ng: Nanogram: 0.000000001 or a billionth of a gram.
Phytochemicals: Substances that occur naturally in plants and have been shown in research to possibly prevent or cure disease.
Potassium: A mineral that serves as an electrolyte and is involved in the balance of fluid within the body. Our bodies contain more than twice as much potassium as sodium (typically 9oz versus 4oz). About 98% of total body potassium is inside our cells. Potassium is the principal cation (positive ion) of the fluid within cells and is important in controlling the activity of the heart, muscles, nervous system and just about every cell in the body. Potassium regulates the water balance and acid-base balance in the blood and tissues. Evidence is showing that potassium is also involved in bone calcification. Potassium is a cofactor in many reactions, especially those involving energy production and muscle building.
Saturated Fat: A type of fat that is readily converted to LDL cholesterol and is thought to encourage production of arterial disease. Saturated fats tend to be hard at room temperature. Among saturated fats are animal fats, dairy products, and such vegetable oils as coconut and palm oils.
Serum: The cell-free fluid of the bloodstream. It appears in a test tube after the blood clots and is often used in expressions relating to the levels of certain compounds in the blood stream.
Stenosis: (Esophageal, GI tract): Narrowing.
Steroid: Any of a large number of hormonal substances with a similar basic chemical structure containing a 17-carbon 14-ring system and including the sterols and various hormones and glycosides.
Stroke: A sudden loss of brain function caused by a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel that supplies the brain, characterized by loss of muscular control, complete or partial loss of sensation or consciousness, dizziness, slurred speech, or other symptoms that vary with the extent and severity of the damage to the brain. The most common manifestation is some degree of paralysis, but small strokes may occur without symptoms. Usually caused by arteriosclerosis, it often results in brain damage.
Testosterone: The principal male sex hormone that induces and maintains the changes that take place in males at puberty. In men, the testicles continue to produce testosterone throughout life, though there is some decline with age. A naturally occurring androgenic hormone.
Thrombosis: Formation of blood clots causing vascular obstruction.
Triglyceride: The main form of fat found in foods and the human body. Containing three fatty acids and one unit of glycerol, triglycerides are stored in adipose cells in the body, which, when broken down, release fatty acids into the blood. Triglycerides are fat storage molecules and are the major lipid component of the diet.
Ulcer: Lesion on the skin or mucous membrane.
Vascular Dementia: Mental incapacity due to inadequate blood flow to the brain.
Vitamin E: An essential fat-soluble vitamin. As an antioxidant, helps protect cell membranes, lipoproteins, fats and vitamin A from destructive oxidation. It helps protect red blood cells and is important for the proper function of nerves and muscles. For Vitamin E only, 1mg translates to 1 IU.
Vitamin K: Helps the blood clot when the body is injured.