Your good health has an enemy — atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is common. And its effects can be very serious. This condition can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and death. But, you can take steps to protect yourself from this disease.
What is atherosclerosis?
The inside walls of healthy arteries are smooth and clean. This makes it easy to transport the blood your body needs. But arteries can become clogged. Fatty substances like cholesterol can stick to artery walls. These deposits are called plaque. Plaque can eventually slow or block the flow of blood. This blockage is atherosclerosis. It can affect any artery in your body. When atherosclerosis affects the arteries that supply blood to the heart, it is called coronary artery disease. Two things may occur where a plaque develops. A plaque may break off or a blood clot may form on the plaque’s surface. If either of these situations occur, it may lead to a blockage of an artery and ultimately a heart attack or stroke.
How is cholesterol measured?
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that all adults older than 20 have their cholesterol level checked every 5 years. This is done with a blood test. The test should measure total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and triglycerides. Talk with your healthcare provider about your target cholesterol levels.
Am I at risk?
If you are older than 20 and have been eating a typical Western diet, chances are atherosclerosis has already begun. Risk factors include:
– High cholesterol
– High triglycerides
– High blood pressure
– Insulin resistance, Prediabetes, or Diabetes
– Being overweight or obese
– Sedentary lifestyle
– Sleep apnea
– Excessive consumption of alcohol
Inflammation is the underlying cause of atherosclerosis and many other serious diseases. The following tips can help prevent atherosclerosis and improve your general health. If you have atherosclerosis, you may be able to stop it from getting worse.
Check Your Teeth
In a new study published in the British Medical Journal researchers found that people with poor oral hygiene had a 70 percent increased likelihood of developing heart disease compared to those who brushed regularly.
Because gum disease can cause atherosclerosis, it is vital to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. Flossing breaks up bacteria colonies in the gums that can get into the bloodstream and cause infection and inflammation in other parts of your body.
Most importantly, be sure to have regular dental checkups and get your teeth cleaned every six months to remove plaque buildup. If this is not removed, you are very likely to get periodontal disease, which contributes to heart disease.
Try taking 2000mg of fish oil daily. EPA and DHA, fish oil’s primary omega-3 fatty acids, reduce inflammation, lower blood lipids (especially triglycerides), improve blood viscosity, and normalize heart rhythms. Taking these supplements can reduce cardiovascular mortality by as much as 45 percent. Reduce the suggested amount if you eat fish three times per week. Metagenics, a great fish oil, can be found in the Myers Detox Store. Cod liver oil has also seen some great benefits.
Go for Garlic
Besides making the obvious changes to your diet like opting for whole grains, less saturated fats, etc, garlic is rich in antioxidants and increases nitric oxide production. In a study of 15 men with coronary heart disease, researchers found that 2.4 grams of aged garlic extract reduced endothelial dysfunction by 44 percent. It’s best to eat either raw garlic or aged (fermented) garlic, but you can also take Kyolic aged garlic extract.