Introduction to Heart Disease
Heart disease can refer to a number of conditions that affect your heart. Being that 80 million deaths related to heart disease happen every year in the United States alone, heart disease is a serious condition that needs to be taken care of – as soon as symptoms are discovered. There are certain factors that encourage heart disease – and those are the ones that we have to watch out for. One of those factors is inflammation.
Inflammation is, by definition, the instant activation of our body’s defense mechanism, the immune system, when an infection or injury threatens to endanger it. We typically identify it by the reddening and the pain that surround a spot on our body that has recently been hurt. It is a way for the body to let us know that we need to fix something, as well as for the body in itself to start the healing process. Occasionally, unfortunately, inflammation turns chronic – it goes from being a nuisance type of pain to becoming a full-fledged disease.
So how does chronic inflammation occur?
Factors that encourage the development of chronic inflammation include hypertension, cigarette smoking, hyperglicemia or atherogenic lipoproteins. These factors basically cause the creation of various stimuli that release chemicals that are involved in the inflammation process. Over the long term, these factors contribute to the formation of plaque and blood clots that disrupt the flow of blood through the system. This process is called atherogenesis.
Other possible factors include infections and bacteria, like the Chlamydia pneumoniae, which has been linked to the development of atherosclerosis plaque. Chlamydia pneumoniae, left untreated, leads to infection, inflammation and heart disease.
Mental state can also influence the development of medical issues – people who are stressed or abused have a higher risk of developing chronic inflammation.
The unsuspected effects of chronic inflammation
Scars or small wounds are uncomfortable, but most of us are inclined to not take them as serious conditions. Inflammation in itself is not something that screams emergency or fatal disease, and yet, left untreated, or in certain conditions, it can lead to some rather unpleasant, if not fatal, consequences.
Inflammation has been associated with diabetes, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Lately, scientists have also established a link between inflammation and certain types of cancer.
How does inflammation influence heart disease?
Inflammation is basically the process that defines the body’s reaction to injury. Mother Nature has built us in a way that many conditions are being handled by the body itself, making the body one of the greatest healing instruments known to science. Inflammation is just an example of that: it is the way the body initiates the healing process when it is injured. Without inflammation, healing would be considerably more difficult and it would probably lead to a lot less healing and a heightened occurrence of death.
The problem occurs when inflammation becomes chronic – that is when the body either does not heal or does not realize it has healed. During inflammation, a protein, called the C-reactive protein, is increasingly released in the body. Over the short term it’s a good thing – it helps heal injuries and it speeds up the healing process. Long term – not so much: a highly sensitive C-reactive protein test is occasionally used to determine heart risk disease. Basically, if the C-reactive protein is released in the body for a long time, it increases the risk for coronary heart disease and eventually for a heart attack.
High levels of C-reactive protein in the body are linked to stroke frequency as well as recurrent cardiovascular disease. In the case of unstable angina, high levels of C-reactive protein can cause coronary events or myocardial infarction; in the case of patients suffering from heart conditions, C-reactive protein presence is associated with a smaller likelihood of survival.
In short. . .
Chronic inflammation may not directly cause heart disease, but it definitely raises the chances of the heart disease becoming a serious fatal condition, when it does occur. Doctors and scientists, becoming more and more aware of this, are in the process of developing ways to prevent it. In the meantime, all we can do for ourselves is try to establish a healthy lifestyle, complete with a healthy, anti inflammatory diet and supplementation with anti inflammatory supplements, such as the Nopalea drink, and hope for the best.