Good health and a good life expectancy depend on an efficient cardiovascular system. The basic essentials are:
- A strong healthy heart
- Clean, free-flowing blood
- Clean, flexible blood vessels
The first condition determining the efficiency of the cardiovascular system is the heart. The heart has a nervous system of its own which co-ordinates the muscle contractions to provide the pumping action. The constant work of the heart is no strain upon it; it remains strong and works uncomplainingly as long as its arteries continue to supply it sufficiently with blood.
The second factor determining the efficiency of the cardiovascular system is the condition of the blood. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of maintaining a healthy supply of blood. The purity of blood determines, almost entirely, the health – mental and physical – of the individual. Many ailments and diseases are the result of impurities and toxins in the blood. Toxaemia is a condition of the blood when it contains undesirable amounts of toxic substances, and when toxaemia is accompanied by high levels of fat and cholesterol, the condition is called lipotoxemia. (Lipids are fats).
Viscosity means the degree of stickiness of a liquid. The viscosity of healthy blood is low, permitting it to flow freely. Excess cholesterol and fat, together with various waste products due mainly to wrong diet, circulate in the bloodstream like sludge and gradually deposit in the artery walls. Fat causes the red cells to aggregate or clump together, seriously reducing their oxygen carrying capacity. Tiny particles called platelets whose function is to clot the blood in the event of injury, also stick together. The effect of this clumping is to increase the blood viscosity; it becomes thick and sluggish and cannot flow freely, particularly in constricted vessels. This often causes drowsiness after heavy meals or perhaps angina or heart attack. Angina pain is frequently mistaken for indigestion. When red cells bunch together and block capillary vessels, clear fluid of the blood is forced out of the capillary walls and causes the tissues to swell. This condition is called “oedema”.
The third factor determining the efficiency of the cardiovascular system is the condition of the arteries. Whereas the condition of the blood can vary from day to day, and if bad, can be rapidly rectified, the degeneration of the vascular system is a long process usually commencing in early childhood and continuing at a rate determined by living habits, primarily diet.
The disease affects vessels throughout the body, and the early symptoms, which are plain to see, cause no great distress and indeed are considered normal. These may be in the form of “mildly” elevated blood pressure, gradual loss of high frequency hearing, or the requirement to wear reading glasses. When the arteries of the heart are affected specifically, the condition is called heart disease or coronary heart disease.
Hardening of the arteries was once the most common form of cardiovascular disease and was called arteriosclerosis. The hardening is caused by deposits of calcium and other insoluble minerals absorbed into the artery walls so that elasticity is lost and the artery gradually blocks, closing off the flow of blood. This condition can eventuate from a diet containing little or no cholesterol but excessive amounts of vegetable protein, mineral salts and fats, contained in cereals and nuts.
To a lesser extent, arteriosclerosis can be caused by changes in blood composition brought about by excessive adrenal secretions. Such excessive secretions are caused by stress and the stress effects of nicotine, alcohol and sugar.
The most common form of artery disease today is different. Instead of the long term hardening process once synonymous with old age, a more rapid process called atherosclerosis occurs, affecting people much earlier in life. The name derives from the word atheroma, the Greek word for porridge, which describes the build-up of fat, cholesterol and fibrin in the artery lining which occurs with or without calcium and other minerals.
The arteries become diseased more often where there is a bend or a branch, and there are a number of such points in particular where blockages commonly occur. As the disease progresses, the body degenerates further and more serious symptoms such as kidney failure, strokes, angina or heart attack may occur.
The disease process is gradual and insidious, beginning at first as creamy streaks on the artery walls as cholesterol and fat begin to be deposited in the cells. The arteries’ inner lining and the muscle layer next to it have no capillaries of their own and rely on oxygen transferred directly from the main bloodstream through the lining. With continuing high levels of dietary fat and cholesterol in the blood, more and more are absorbed into the artery walls. The cells eventually become engorged and begin to burst. As the body attempts to heal the damaged area, new cell growth occurs, and together with fibrous tissue, a plaque is formed in the artery wall. With further deposits, the artery gradually closes, restricting the blood flow. The blood pressure increases in order to keep up an adequate flow of blood.
As the condition worsens, the artery may lose elasticity, further increasing resistance to the blood flow. Sometimes calcium forms part of the deposits and the artery hardens like a clay pipe. This effect can result from excess protein in the diet which causes leaching of calcium from the bones. It also results from smoking.
The plaques, like little abscesses, protrude from the artery walls interfering further with the blood flow. They may be isolated or numerous, affecting the artery in varying degrees.
When the heart’s own coronary arteries become badly blocked, perhaps 90-95% closed, severe coronary insufficiency occurs. In this precarious condition, relatively minor factors affecting blood viscosity can easily trigger a heart attack. Some heart attacks are caused by a piece of plaque becoming detached causing a blockage downstream from the diseased area.
General Signs of Advancing Cardiovascular Disease:
- Premature aging, blotchy skin
- Florid face
- Arcus senilus (a lightly coloured ring around the iris of the eye)
- Deteriorating eyesight, loss of peripheral vision
- Deteriorating hearing, loss of high frequency range
- Low resistance to infections, colds
- Drowsiness after eating
- Dizziness on exertion
- Poor circulation, sensitivity to cold
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen tissues
- Leg pains
- Angina (pain in chest, perhaps in arms, after meals or on exertion but sometimes at rest)
- Sweating for no apparent reason
- High resting pulse rate
- Increased thirst and appetite and rapid loss of body water (diabetic symptoms)
Do not take these symptoms lightly just because they may not be regarded as clinical symptoms, and note well this remark by Dr. Kenneth Cooper – “you have to keep in mind that the most common first symptom of severe underlying heart disease is sudden death. For a lot of people that’s the only symptom they will ever have”.
The Causes of Cardiovascular Disease Summarized:
Cardiovascular disease is caused by lipotoxemia which is a condition of the blood involving high blood fat and cholesterol levels. The viscosity of the blood increases, the oxygen-carrying capability decreases, and blood pressure increases. Cholesterol, fats, fibrin, sometimes calcium, permeate the artery walls and as the deposits build up, the artery closes off blocking the flow of blood. The fatty substance is called atheroma, and the condition is atherosclerosis. The condition arises from improper diet but is enhanced by smoking, alcohol, and lack of exercise and to a lesser extent caffeine, unremitting stress and lack of rest.
The dietary substances most to blame are meat and other flesh foods, eggs and dairy products, all of which contain excessive amounts of fat, cholesterol and protein.
The New Health Revolution by Ross Horne 1983.