Atherosclerosis is a leading cause of coronary artery disease and stroke, which are responsible for more than 25% of all deaths in the United States. Each year about 1.2 million Americans are diagnosed with coronary artery disease and about 700,000 people will suffer a stroke. An additional 8 million Americans are affected by peripheral arterial disease. For many, atherosclerosis is a silent disease, with no visible signs or symptoms until it suddenly leads to a heart attack or stroke.
What is Atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is a disease characterized by progressive buildup of plaque in the arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. These arteries deliver oxygen and nutrients to all the cells in our body. When arteries are narrowed by plaque, the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart and other parts of the body is reduced.
One surprising fact about atherosclerosis is the early age at which the disease can begin. For many, the process may start in early adulthood. As we get older, plaque can build up unnoticed and can eventually clog our arteries. Clogged arteries cut off the flow of blood to the heart and the brain, and can lead to heart attack, stroke, and even death.
Atherosclerosis can affect any artery in the body. As a result, different diseases may develop depending on which arteries are affected.
Coronary artery disease or heart disease: When plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the blood flow to your heart is reduced or blocked, which can lead to chest pain and heart attack.
Carotid artery disease: When plaque builds up in the carotid arteries, the blood flow to your brain is reduced or blocked, which can lead to stroke.
Peripheral arterial disease: When plaque builds up in the major arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the legs, arms, and pelvis, it can lead to numbness, pain, and sometimes dangerous infections.
Inflammation Is a Key Player in Every Stage of Atherosclerosis
Inflammation plays a key role in every stage of atherosclerosis. At an early stage, atherosclerotic plaque can build up quickly in inflamed arteries. If inflammatory conditions persist, the plaque can expand rapidly causing blood vessels to narrow. In advanced stages, inflammation leads to development of “soft” plaque, also known as vulnerable plaque, which is filled with inflammatory cells and their metabolites and debris.
Inflamed plaques often develop weak areas that can rupture suddenly. When the plaque ruptures, blood comes into contact with the plaque contents, which sets off clot formation and artery occlusion, causing sudden major problems such as heart attack or stroke.
Reducing Inflammation May Slow Down Atherosclerosis
The patients with atherosclerosis are treated for their associated risk factors, which include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and physical inactivity. In addition, anti-platelet drugs are used to prevent the formation of blood clots. Although it is widely accepted that chronic inflammation contributes to plaque rupture and heart attack, and control of inflammation may yield a more ‘stable’ plaque that less likely to rupture, there is no data to prove that reducing inflammation could prevent cardiovascular disease.
Recent results from large clinical trials shed a new light on the inflammation concept. The study of 17,802 apparently healthy men and women for two years provided evidence for the first time that reducing inflammation may prevent future cardiovascular disease. Another study of 250,000 heart attack patients revealed that nearly half of all heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol levels, a strong indicator that a factor like inflammation is involved. The results suggest that about 20% of the total heart attacks suffered per year in the U.S. may be prevented by controlling inflammation.
Natural Remedies for Inflammation Relief
Many botanical medicinal herbs have anti-inflammatory properties. Remedies made of anti-inflammatory herbs may fight chronic inflammation safely. FlameEz-Vascular and FlameEz-BP are patent pending natural remedies formulated to relieve systemic inflammation for cardiovascular health. By using scientifically validated ingredients, FlameEz remedies are optimized to deliver high performance safely.