The general consensus of the medical industry is that atherosclerosis is not reversible. Researching this topic has provided some interesting information.
Atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis are used interchangeably. Arteriosclerosis is a hardening of the artery walls. Atherosclerosis is the narrowing of the arteries due to the build-up of plaque. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute defines plaque as fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood.
Blood flow is reduced when your arteries are narrowed. Severe cardiovascular problems (heart attack and stroke) can develop as a result of plaque build-up in your arteries. The leading cause of death in the United States is blocked arteries.
High levels of cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and genetics are common causes of atherosclerosis. Diabetics are at higher risk of developing atherosclerosis.
Headaches, difficulty breathing, overall weakness, and facial numbness are symptoms associated with atherosclerosis. However, as atherosclerosis develops one might expect more serious symptoms such as vomiting, extreme anxiety, chest pains, coughing, and fainting.
Other symptoms that people don’t associate with atherosclerosis are a loss of appetite, swelling of the extremities, difficulty concentrating, hair loss on arms and legs, erectile dysfunction, and numbness in the legs. Chronic kidney disease and peripheral artery disease are also common.
Typical treatments for atherosclerosis are lifestyle changes (weight management, exercise, and diet), medications and surgery. Doctors suggest that you avoid saturated fats because they increase LDL levels. A diet that includes unsaturated fats (olive oil, avocados, walnuts, oily fish, nuts, and seeds) is highly recommended.
However, LDL cholesterol is not the real problem. Cholesterol is required in nearly every cell in our bodies. The liver makes LDL, and our bloodstream transports it to our cells. Oxidized LDL is the problem. Our immune system is usually strong enough to counter the continual attack of free radicals on cholesterol.
Sometimes our immune system is overwhelmed by a myriad of problems (toxins, stress, vitamin/mineral deficiencies, disease, and lack of sleep are a few) and unable to fight the good fight.
The other side of cholesterol is HDL (high-density lipoprotein). HDL removes the plaque of oxidized LDL cholesterol from the artery walls. HDL also inhibits the chronic inflammation that allows plaques to form. HDL needs the enzyme, PON-1 (paraoxonase-1), to work properly. PON-1 attaches itself to the surface of the HDL molecule. It is this enzyme that facilitates plaque removal.
Dietary imbalance and aging are two causes of lower levels of PON-1. Combine low levels of PON-1 with increased plaque formation and you may become a perfect target for a heart attack. Statin drugs used to treat cholesterol are less effective with low levels of PON-1.
Pomegranate and resveratrol boost levels of PON-1. Diets rich in pomegranates were studied in patients with severe plaque formation. Within one year, PON-1 levels increased by 83%. Oxidized LDL plaques were reduced by 90%. Resveratrol and quercetin have been shown to increase the production of PON-1.
Several studies over the past five years have shown vitamin K2 with MK-7 can prevent and reverse arterial calcification. MK-7 is a menaquinone in vitamin K2. It is responsible for the biological effectiveness of vitamin K2 in bone and cardiovascular health.
One study of vitamin K2 over nearly 10 years showed the patients with the highest levels of vitamin K2 were 52% less likely to develop artery calcification and a 57% lower risk of dying from heart disease according to a September 2018 article in NutriceuticalBusinessReview.com.
Another study reported in HealthDayNews.com showed a 37% reduction in calcium build-up in the arteries of animals with high levels of vitamin K2. A 2017 study published by BMC Nephrology showed a reversal of blood vessel calcification in patients with kidney disease.
Studies show that curcumin is effective in reducing plaque build-up in your arteries and improving blood circulation. Mice fed a curcumin-based diet for 16 weeks showed a 27% reduction in fatty deposits in their arteries compared to a control group.
Prevention should be the primary focus for cardiovascular health. However, there are some options when clogged arteries become a problem. As always, do not self-treat based on the information you receive from open sources. Always consult your physician before taking any action, even if those actions involve foods and natural supplements.