Reduce Cholesterol to Reduce Risk of Heart Attack

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Heart attack symptoms are caused by a lack of oxygen. The coronary arteries are blocked and they cut off the heart’s supply of oxygen. Heart attack occurs when the heart muscle cells lack so much oxygen that they die.

One strategy for increasing the heart’s oxygen supply is to increase the number of small arteries, or capillaries, carrying blood to the heart. The body is able to generate new blood vessels, a process called angiogenesis, and it does this with the help of certain growth factors. According to one exciting new hypothesis, if more growth factors could be produced, they might simulate the growth of new capillaries, and new capillaries might alleviate coronary heart disease and prevent heart attack symptoms.

In NIA’s cardiovascular laboratory, Maurizio Capogrossi has been experimenting with ways to increase the supply of these growth factors through gene therapy. Knowing the genes that code for the growth factors, he and his colleagues have found ways to add copies of these genes to heart muscle. To get the genes to the myocytes, they have engineered special carriers for the genes, called adenovirus vectors.

Capogrossi and his colleagues first experimented with the adenovirus vectors in laboratory dishes. There, the gene-carrying vectors did include the formation of capillary-like structures in heart muscle tissue. Next they tried injecting the vectors into rats. In this experiment, one of the vectors stimulated capillary growth. The next step will be with larger animals. If this form of gene therapy can stimulate capillary growth, relieve ischemia, and reduce the impact of heart attacks symptoms in large mammals, the scientists will begin to consider clinical trials in humans.

The experimentation referred to above is interesting but it may divert us away from the two biggest concerns for heart attack symptoms : elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure or hypertension.

Think about it for a moment. Why do you get high blood pressure? Simply, because your arteries are becoming clogged with plague so your heart has to increase the pressure in order to get your blood through your arteries and capillaries. It’s no different to your household water pipes if they get rusted up. You know what happens if you turn down the water pressure when you are using a sprinkler on your lawn… only a small area gets watered! The same principle applies to your body. Inadequate pressure means the small capillaries in the brain and other parts of the body will get starved for blood, thereby increasing the risk of heart attack symptoms.

You have to clear the obstructions to get rid of the heart attack symptoms!

I am sure you know this but there are two common forms of cholesterol. One of which is considered good, and that is called HDL and the other which is considered bad and is called LDL.

HDL cholesterol travels around in your bloodstream picking up excess cholesterol including LDL cholesterol and taking it back to your liver for reprocessing. Sort of like a garbage collector! Your HDL cholesterol must be as high as possible to ensure adequate ‘housekeeping’.

LDL cholesterol may attach itself to your artery wall and create ‘plaque’ which can ultimately accumulate and create a blockage in your arteries resulting in a heart attack. Or it can cause a stroke if some of the capillaries in your brain become blocked and parts of your brain are starved for blood.

It is generally accepted that your LDL cholesterol needs to be as low as possible, but this message tends to be oversimplified and there is a tendency to look at total cholesterol which can sometimes be misleading.

To reduce the risk of heart attack symptoms you need to help your body find its ‘natural’ levels of cholesterol …. the natural way.

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