What Causes Heart Disease? How Atherosclerosis Begins
Cardiovascular disease begins when the walls of your arteries and the cholesterol in your blood are damaged by free radicals and oxidative stress. Damaged cholesterol molecules stick to the walls of your arteries, and each other, eventually clogging the artery and causing a heart attack. It doesn’t matter how much, or how little, cholesterol there is in your blood. Once the cholesterol becomes oxidized, your body will send more cholesterol to the damaged area in an attempt to repair the damage, and plaque deposits begin. As these plaque deposits grow, the artery becomes narrower and stiffer, diminishing the flow of blood to the heart. If the artery becomes so clogged that it becomes completely blocked, you have a heart attack. Cholesterol-reducing drugs may lower the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream, but they will not protect it from oxidation.
What Causes Heart Disease? Atherosclerosis Starts Early in Life
Atherosclerosis probably started to form in your body when you were still young. The entire process is slow and insidious, and often doesn’t have symptoms. Some people with blocked coronary arteries develop angina. When they exert themselves, their stiff, narrowed arteries can’t expand enough to increase the flow of blood to the heart. The result is severe, sometimes disabling, chest pain.
Atherosclerosis can also affect other parts of your body, as well. If an artery in your brain is blocked, you could have a stroke. If the arteries leading to any of your organs are blocked, that organ could fail. If the blockage is in the arteries in your legs, that could lead to muscle cramps or artery diseases such as phlebitis.
What Causes Heart Disease? Oxidative Stress.
Rather than worry about your cholesterol levels, you really need to work at lowering inflammation and oxidative stress.
Sources of oxidative stress, and the free radical reaction that causes it, fall into the following general categories:
environmental toxins and pollution
pesticides and herbicides
processed foods and food additives
ultraviolet radiation from the sun
electromagnetic radiation in your environment
Prevention of Heart Disease
The best way to lower your risk of heart disease is by eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants give your body the defense it needs against free radical attacks to your arteries.
With an abundant supply of antioxidants, the free radicals are neutralized quickly enough so that your artery walls will remain intact and your cholesterol will not form plaque.