Inflammation is a primary contributor—and perhaps the key reason—for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke.
Narrowed arteries and heart attack are words typically associated. But as a practitioner of functional and forensic nutrition, I’m always asking— yes, but what is the root cause? Narrowed arteries are caused by inflammation. Any inflammation in any part of the body is caused by protective mechanisms that have been driven out of balance by nutrient disproportion and a body overburdened by toxic materials.
The four primary blood tests that should be done to assess cardiovascular risk for heart attack or stroke:
- High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein
- Uric Acid
Yes, a baseline lipid panel, including buoyant and non-buoyant particles, should be done as well.
HS C-Reactive Protein, fibrinogen, homocysteine, and uric acid are all produced naturally in the body and become elevated when there is a nutrient deficiency or toxicity, thereby making these elevated markers early warning indicators for future cardiovascular events.
High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein measurement in blood is more sensitive than the standard CRP test to determine cardiovascular risk. This marker identifies inflammation in the body, and new studies have shown that elevated High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein is a greater risk than high cholesterol in predicting cardiovascular events. Checking blood level of HS-CRP level is an excellent way to prevent a disease state before it becomes a full-blown pathology, i.e., heart attack or stroke.
What causes CRP to elevate?
- Insulin Resistance (early warning for diabetes)
- Periodontal Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Synthetic Female Hormones, i.e, BC Pills, hormone replacement therapy.
Homocysteine is a natural metabolite that becomes elevated when the liver can’t make proper conversions in the methylation pathway because of insufficient vitamin B12, B6, methylated folic acid, methionine, and choline, among others.
Excess homocysteine in the blood circulation can damage the lining of arteries making them narrow and inelastic. And one of its root causes is: STRESS! Stress, as well as many medications, including birth control pills, can deplete B vitamins necessary for proper function of this pathway. Stress also increases levels of the neurotransmitter or hormone known as norepinephrine causing arteries to become stiff and inelastic.
Many people have a genetic SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism—faulty gene from one or both parent) which interferes with proper methylation function.
Research suggests that an elevated homocysteine level is an independent risk factor not only for coronary heart disease and stroke, but also for Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, depression, diabetes, and many more disease processes that can be stopped in their tracks with an early warning of the blood level of homocysteine.
A uric acid blood test (serum uric acid) is a hallmark indicator of how well your body produces and removes uric acid. This crystalline acid is the end product of protein utilization. It must be excreted through the kidneys because it cannot be metabolized by the body.
Increased uric acid levels are associated with gout and cardiovascular burden. Low uric acid levels indicate poor utilization of protein—not an indicator of too much dietary protein—such as that associated with MS (multiple sclerosis). When inflammation is present caused by high uric acid levels, the body wants to start laying down protective tissue resulting in such illness as bone spurs, atherosclerosis, fibrosis, etc.
Fibrinogen The body valiantly tries to maintain balance in our blood by keeping it thin enough to flow through the smallest capillaries and being able to clot when needed. Fibrinogen is one of the principle blood clotting proteins. It is produced in the liver and liver disease and dysfunction can cause a decrease in the level of circulating fibrinogen.
In the presence of trauma or injury the body converts fibrinogen to fibrin in order to enmesh blood components to form a clot to stop bleeding and begin repair.
Elevated fibrinogen can lead to increased arterial plaque formation, and can also lead to a myocardial infarction (heart attack) or stroke.
Pharmaceuticals drugs and over-the counter medications deplete vital nutrients your body needs on a daily basis.
- Steroids deplete Calcium, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc leading to potential mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Blood Pressure medications deplete Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, COQ10, B6 and Zinc leading to potential cardiovascular disease.
- Cholesterol medications deplete COQ10, Vitamin E & Omega 3 leading to central nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimers and other potential cardiovascular disease.
- Birth Control Pills deplete all the B vitamins, including Folic Acid, essential fatty acids (the Omegas) and many others leading to stroke, blood clots, migraines and increased risk for female cancers.
Vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are the gas and spark plugs critical for all organs and systems, including cardiovascular. They keep your body nourished and provide the energy (or the calm) required. It’s also important to note that heavy toxic metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, and aluminum can push out precious minerals to create their own hiding place. These nutrient depletions create a perfect environment for the disease process to begin.