Tuesday, September 14, 2010


"Heart attack" is commonly perceived as a result of cholesterol build up on the arterial walls due to excessive consumption of fatty foods, especially the ones rich in saturated fats. But what causes the cholesterol to stick to the arterial tissue is not that well understood. The routine testing of blood cholesterol levels and assessing the value against some notional ranges are considered adequate to conclude whether some body is vulnerable to heart attack or not. Also the relationship between circulating cholesterol and the extent of plaque build up inside the artery is obscure. The argument by a few experts that inflammation is the cause of cholesterol build up inside the arteries is not universally accepted though there is some logic in this proposition. Following is an excerpt from the writings of the reputed cardiac surgeon Dr Dwight Lundell, forwarded by one of the readers of this Blog, Mr Thomas Mathai from Mysore which is quite informative though for a layman it can be some what confusing.

"The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice. It Is Not Working! These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated. The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences. Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before. Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped".

All said and done, it is common sense that if one lives a life of moderation, the possibility of acquiring any of the life style disorders is indeed remote. A balanced diet containing just enough calories to meet the demands of day to day activities, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber as evolved over a period of time and avoiding sedentary life style can be expected to maintain the correct BMI and provide reasonable guarantee against serious health ailments as one grows. Overwhelming predominance of factory processed foods over natural foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and others can pose a serious challenge in maintaining health in a prime state.


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