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Why cholesterol clogs up blood vessels in the first place
Cardiovascular disease boils down to a problem with blood vessels – the trouble comes to a head, when a blood vessel gets blocked. The thing that causes the block, is officially an atherosclerotic plaque, but for simplicity we blame “cholesterol”.
Because, the chief ingredient is CHOLESTROL !
And the WAR on heart disease is traditionally a WAR on cholesterol.
You got to get it down ………………… OR ELSE.
But, why is the cholesterol there in the first place ?
Blood vessels are supposed to be “seamless” tubes……
Each blood vessel is a conglomeration of multiple endothelial cells. The little cells, join up with one another, folding into a “smooth” tube. The sleek frictionless surface, is a formidable barrier, keeping the blood and body cells separate, BUT connected. This “airtight” system, facilitates the efficient transport of huge volumes of material around the body.
There are deliveries and pick ups along the way.
But, for the most part, this exchange relies on the endothelial cells themselves, moving the goods in and out.
The endothelial cell port authority
It’s a tough job.
All sorts of things are in the pipes. Many of the items are potentially TOXIC.
But it is all very civilized.
Things are shipped in and out, based on needs, concentrations and hormones.
Endothelial cells are NOT machines
Maintaining the all important BARRIER between the body and the blood is a tough job.
Endothelial cells get bruised and battered.
Some give up the ghost.
But a ghost, in the midst of a blood vessel is a crisis.
The body sends re-inforcements
They’re called epithelial progenitor cells, EPCs for short – they find the holes, and close them.
The details of how they do this, are still a little unclear, but, these “knights” in shining armour, ride in, whenever an endothelial cell, gives up the ghost.
One of the spots they ride in from ……………… is the bone marrow.
Except when the don’t.
Which is what happens when you’re suffering from CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE.
The EPCs are thin on the ground.
Now, lets be fair…………. there are often, more of the little guys circulating, there just aren’t enough to take care of ALL the holes. Because the holes are happening left, right and centre, due to the fact that the endothelial cells are taking strain.
Why are they taking strain ?
In a word…………….. BAD BODY CHEMISTRY.
High levels of “toxic” chemicals circulating in the blood, increase the odds, they suffer irreparable damage.
Problematic chemicals include :
- Environmental pollutants g. smoking
- Excessive levels of nutrients e.g. sugar, free fatty acids
- Excessive levels of hormones e.g. insulin
- Excessive levels of inflammatory cytokines e.g. TNF-alpha
Slips and slops
When there are not enough patches……….. the immune system is forced to intervene.
This leads to atherosclerotic plaques, which ups the blood pressure.
Squeezing the life out of more endothelial cells.
Requiring MORE EPCs.
Missing endothelial cells equals a crisis
EVERYONE needs the blood to flow smoothly through the pipes, no leaks, no oscillations……… disruptions are costly. The EVERYONE includes, the cells holed up in the bone marrow.
Remember, the bone marrow cells MAKE the EPCS.
It is a vicious circle.
More EPCs are NEEDED. Less EPCs are made.
NOTE : Other cells/organ systems also take strain…..
- Fat cells can’t breath, contributing to insulin resistance.
- Nerves go hungry, causing neuropathies
- Kidney cells functioning is disrupted, resulting in more junk in the system. Eish !
It doesn’t start with cholesterol
Cardiovascular disease, starts when blood flow is impeded, ever so slightly, because an endothelial cell suffered a catastrophic event AND WAS NOT REPLACED, timeously.
Avoiding heart disease (and pretty much every other health problem), requires the cells lining your blood vessels to be in good shape. So they can deliver………
Damage must be minimized.
Repair must be maximized, or at least keep pace, with demand.
Endothelial cells not that demanding
They’re simple souls, ready to be a formidable barrier
- Power them up with a little nitric oxide, through regular exercise and eating your greens and
- Keep the levels of “toxic” chemicals, as low as possible, by improving insulin sensitivity
- Give them some down time, repairs typically happen when you’re sleeping.
Need a little help improving your insulin sensitivity ?
Sitting stops leg blood flow, but if you fidget, you can improve blood flow- it turns out, tiny muscle contractions are better than NO, muscle contractions.
The bigger a fat cell is, the further it has to stretch to grab an oxygen molecule as it floats by, being short of oxygen, is unpleasant, maybe even inflammatory
A special non-stick layer, known as the glycocalyx, prevents things from sticking to the sides of blood vessels. When it’s not there, atherosclerosis happens.