Cardiovascular disease is any condition affecting the heart or blood vessels, the major outcomes being angina, heart attacks and strokes. But what really causes this devastating disease that accounts for 16 deaths a day in NZ, 14 of these being women? Here’s a clue, it’s not high blood pressure or high cholesterol!
Why the western way has not been effective so far:
Up until now we have relied on high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity and history of smoking as our most accurate markers of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Our only treatments in the Western medicine paradigm have been either pharmacology (medication)- commonly to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol or dilate clogged arteries; or surgery- most commonly to scrape plaque from or dilate narrowed arteries or to replace exhausted valves in the heart.
We have overlooked a very important question in our diagnosis and treatment of CVD… If we lower blood pressure or cholesterol with pharmaceuticals, or if we replace an exhausted valve, are we actually treating the part of cardiovascular disease that is killing us? Statistics showed that being on cholesterol lowering medications (called Statins) only decreased the mortality from CVD by 1%!! So decreasing cholesterol using medications DOES NOT decrease risk of death from CVD.
It is being proved time again that making a person’s “numbers” look good on paper (eg. Clinical and blood tests) is not actually significantly decreasing their risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Hypertension and high cholesterol are JUST symptoms, not the cause:
Imagine fiddling with the speedometer of your car so that it always reads 50km below the speed you are actually travelling. In doing so you are hoping that you will still be able to travel over the speed limit without getting speeding fines and without causing any accidents. Even though seeing the low speeds on your dashboard may make you feel more confident in your actions, the risks of getting a speeding ticket and having an accident have not decreased but in fact increased. This is because there is now no feedback from your dashboard to allow your senses to regulate an accurate speed… and this is the same in your body.
We feel at ease seeing lower blood pressure numbers or lower cholesterol numbers due to medications but in actuality we are now in more trouble. Blood pressure and cholesterol get high for a reason. They are protecting our cells and so without them our risk of being hurt increase. Worse still, we’re not just in more trouble but now have a false sense of security. Let me explain this in more detail.
The pressure of your blood inside your vessels around your body, reflects how much work your heart must do to get the oxygen from your lungs around to all your cells. A lower pressure means that your heart muscle only has to squeeze a shallow amount to push blood through a your free-flowing blood vessels. A higher pressure means that with a “normal shallow pump” from the heart, something is stopping the blood getting to your cells and they are screaming out for more oxygen. This feedback then tells the heart to pump much harder and often faster to force the blood more vigorously through your vessels to get to your cells. In doing so increasing your blood pressure to ensure your cells are being fed.
If your blood pressure is high then you need it to be high! Without this extra pressure, your cells will slowly be starved of oxygen. This does not mean that high blood pressure is good, it just means hurry up and figure out why it is so high and fix it!! The cause of the high blood pressure is the more scary and detrimental factor, and this needs addressing straight away. It won’t be addressed if you artificially lower the “numbers”, and so will ultimately be the thing that hurts you. Lowering the blood pressure may take the strain off the heart, but it also slowly starves those cells that oxygen can no longer get to. Are you starting to understand the dilemma?
Cholesterol is found where inflammation is. It is there “putting out the fire”. If there is a fire, we want firemen at the scene! Removing the firemen is not going to make the fire any better, in fact it will make the fire worse, much worse (obviously!!). So removing cholesterol from the inflamed portion of an artery using medication makes it look as if there is less of a problem as the numbers go down. But with no firemen, the inflammation can do only one thing… get worse.
We are removing factors that need to be there to help the body. If you have cardiovascular disease right now, then you need high blood pressure and high cholesterol for now. It is there to ensure your cells are fed and the fires are extinguished. The problem is, you can’t live like this for long.
So how CAN we effectively treat cardiovascular disease?
Well, we do want to decrease blood pressure and cholesterol, but we need to decrease these through changing the underlying cause. (We need to find out why the heart can’t get the blood easily to the cells, and why there are so many fires!) This way we can truly reverse and correct cardiovascular disease. Studies seen so far have shown up to 87% reductions in mortality when addressing cardiovascular disease in this way.
Blood Pressure: The true question is, what part of the body is struggling so much that the pressure inside your blood vessels must be increased?
There are many factors that increase blood pressure, and so there are often more than one areas needing to be addressed:
- Gut dysbiosis
- Chronic infection
- Insulin resistance
- Nutritional deficiencies
Cholesterol: The true question is, why is there so much inflammation in your blood vessels that the body requires cholesterol to “put out the fire”?
Inflammation in your blood vessels is caused by several factors listed simply below:
- Poor dietary choices
- Poor lifestyle choices
- Chronic infection
- Low thyroid function
- Low testosterone in men
- Nutritional deficiencies
There are also natural nutrients that can be used to assist the body while the blood pressure and cholesterol are both high, taking some stress off the body while it slowly and naturally lowers these. Magnesium, omega 3s and Co-enzyme Q10 are important nutrients to consider, but must be of a good quality and of a high enough intake. These must be taken under supervision of your natural health practitioner otherwise they may be detrimental rather than helpful to your CVD.