12 Warning Signs of Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease is by far the most common cardiovascular problem, but do you really know what it is?
You may have heard of the term atherosclerosis, which refers to the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels. Essentially, coronary artery disease is a form of atherosclerosis that affects the arteries leading to the heart. As plaque in the coronary arteries builds up and blockages grow, the level of oxygen and nutrients provided to the heart decreases, limiting the heart’s effectiveness. Should an artery become blocked completely—due to plaque buildup or the inability of a clot to pass through the narrowed opening—a heart attack results.
The body does send warning signs to let you know when you might be in danger of coronary artery disease. Here are 12 of those signs or, as I call them, “the dirty dozen.”
Excessive insulin. The pancreas secretes insulin, which moves blood glucose into cells. When insulin levels are chronically high, a chain reaction of biochemical developments can lead to arterial inflammation.
Toxic blood. This describes blood containing elements that either contribute to, or indicate, inflammation or plaque buildup. These include:
- Elevated homocysteine;
- Lp(a), the inflammatory subtype of LDL;
- C-reactive protein (CRP), a key indicator of inflammation and chronic infection in the body;
- Excess fibrinogen, a protein that helps regulate the clotting process; and
- Excess ferritin (iron), which contributes to arterial toxicity and cholesterol oxidation.
Emotional stress. Stress hormones promote arterial constriction, high blood pressure levels, increased heart rate, and oxidation. They can also threaten good cholesterol levels and limit your ability to prevent blood clots. Acute stress, such as anger, can cause heart attack and stroke.
Oxidative stress. Unchecked free-radical activity accelerates age-related degenerative diseases. Free radicals are generated by smoking, high sugar intake, excessive physical or emotional stress, heavy metal toxins, radiation, trans fats, and some drugs.
Poor bioenergetics. Bioenergetics refers to the ability of cells to generate and use energy, and it often falters in patients who have heart disease. That’s why I always recommend heart patients supplement with my “Awesome Foursome” of CoQ10, magnesium, L-carnitine, and D-ribose.
Micro-organisms. Bacterial infections spread germs and generate inflammation in the body. A common source of such bacteria is gum disease. Nanobacteria (1/1,000 the size of regular bacteria) is a particularly strong risk factor.
Toxic metals. Mercury and lead are the most infamous toxic metals that can contribute to inflammation by poisoning enzyme systems, elevating blood pressure levels, and damaging arterial walls.
Hormones. A woman’s own estrogen has cardioprotective benefits. As we age, and our hormone levels decline, it makes sense that our risk of atherosclerosis and poor blood circulation rises. Moreover, synthetic hormone replacement therapy can put women at higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
Trans fatty acids. The unnatural trans fatty acids used in processed foods ignite inflammation, raise Lp(a), threaten good cholesterol levels and lower HDL.
High blood pressure. High blood pressure levels damage arterial walls, leading to arterial damage and atherosclerosis. It can also enlarge the heart, creating an extra oxygen demand.
Radiation. X-rays and other medical procedures that use radiation have the potential to damage the sensitive lining of arterial walls.
Genetics. Research is beginning to reveal specific information about one’s predisposition to cardiovascular problems. Ask your cardiologist about available tests if you have concerns.
Remember, you have ultimate responsibility for your own health, so please pay close attention to these warning sign. Share them with your family and friends, too.
For more information on coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular problems, visit www.drsinatra.com.
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Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
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