Research has uncovered an association between inflammation and cardiovascular disease, but the jury is still out on whether inflammation is in fact the cause of heart disease. Before we get any deeper into this discussion, we are going to need a recap of the role of inflammation in the body.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is one way the body defends itself from potentially harmful stimuli. Inflammation occurs when an increase of white blood cells and other biochemical mediators occurs within an affected area. This increase results in redness and swelling and in most cases helps to fight off the harmful effects of the foreign material. This can be a good thing, like when bacteria is introduced into a cut on your finger the white blood cells and other immune mediators flock to the wound to fight off these bacteria and keep you healthy. Unfortunately, such is not the case when it comes to heart disease.
Inflammation & Heart Disease
Atherosclerosis is one form of heart disease which is characterized by a build-up of cholesterol within the blood vessel; this build-up is termed a plaque. The body recognizes the plaque as a foreign material since it is not normally supposed to be there and the body elicits an inflammatory attack against the foreign plaque. The goal of this inflammatory response is to remove the plague from the blood vessel wall which seems like it would be a good thing, but once removed the plaque can interact with the blood to form a blood clot. If this blood clot happens to block a major artery, the result is a heart attack.
What can we do to prevent plaque build-up?
Exercise and making healthy food choices (i.e. choosing foods which are high in fibre and low in salt, cholesterol & fat) will help to reduce your risk of developing plaques. Another way to lower your risk is to take a supplement that helps with cholesterol management. The Kyolic line of products all contain Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract which has been extensively studied for its effects in cholesterol management and scientific research has demonstrated that when taken daily, Aged Garlic Extract helps to support healthy cholesterol levels. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels can reduce the development of plaques within the arteries (which helps to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease) and keeps your cardiovascular system healthy.