Anti-Inflammatory/Anti-Aging Strategies
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Our heart is “simply” a large muscle that continuously pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body supplying cells, tissues and organs with life-giving oxygen and nutrients. The cells of the body release carbon dioxide and other gases as a by-product of producing energy. These gases are removed from the blood as it circulates through the lungs.

A heart attack results when blood is blocked from getting into the arteries that feed the heart. If not treated rapidly, parts of the heart muscle may die from lack of oxygen. After a heart attack, danger signals released by dying cells trigger inflammation which in turn attracts immune cells into the area to clear dead cells and tissue debris.

The high numbers of inflammatory immune cells stick to the plaque, increasing the risk for another heart attack. The body tries to heal itself by transforming the damaged heart muscle cells into scar tissue. Because scar tissue is hard and not flexible, a badly scarred heart cannot pump blood efficiently.

For any sort of healing, the body has to produce the right amount of inflammation. There has to be sufficient inflammation for the healing process, but not so much that excessive scarring occurs. Depending on how much scar tissue forms, congestive  heart failure may result due to the inability of the heart to pump normally.

Our cells produce cholesterol which is essential for a wide range of biological functions. The body has to manufacture the right amount of cholesterol and which has to go to specific parts of the body.   If too much cholesterol is produced over many years, cholesterol plaque builds up in the arteries resulting in atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is triggered by lifestyle issues that cause uncontrolled inflammation such as high blood pressure, smoking, poor dietary choices and excessive weight.

Plaque deposits narrow the passageways of arteries and block the flow of blood in vessels that feed the heart itself. The plaque may eventually harden, burst and release blood platelets that form clots in an attempt to stop the bleeding. The blood clots may cause even more blockages in the arteries, obstructing blood and oxygen flow and causing more heart damage. An artery to the heart which is blocked may result in a heart attack; a blocked artery in or leading to the brain results in a stroke.

 What is a Heart Attack?

 

In Summary:

1) Acting fast at the first sign of heart attack symptoms can save lives and limit damage to the heart. Heart attack treatment works best when it’s given right after symptoms occur. If you think you, or someone else is having a heart attack, even if you’re not sure, call emergency services immediately.

2) Current therapies for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease do not target inflammatory cells. Maintaining the body in immune homeostasis, immune balance, may help the body support healthy heart and cardiovascular function.

www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack
www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Inflammation-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_432150_Article.jsp#.V7un7mf6vcs
www.pnas.org/content/113/29/8212
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27619160
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3375712
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27515051
stm.sciencemag.org/content/8/342/342ra80www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27542099

 

 

Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States with a person dying every four minutes.  Strokes happen at any age, but the risk of having one doubles each decade after the age of 55.  Additionally 53% of stroke survivors may end up permanently disabled.

Active neurons, brain cells, require a constant flow of oxygen and nutrients which are supplied by blood vessels. A mere 60 second interruption of blood flow may result in the death of two million brain cells. Such events probably account for the significant number of disabilities experienced by stroke victims.

What Exactly is a Stroke?

87% of all strokes occur when blood flow is blocked by a blood clot in an artery in the brain. This type of “brain attack” is termed an ischemic stroke and if blood flow is not restored quickly enough may lead to significant damage or death of brain cells.

A second type of stroke, the hemorrhagic stroke, results from the rupture or leakage of weakened blood vessels in the brain. Blood spills into and around the brain triggering significant inflammatory and other immune responses as the body tries to “clean up” the blood. Even though only 15% of all strokes are hemorrhagic, they are responsible for about 40% of all stroke fatalities.

[Some individuals experience a quick, temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain, a “mini-stroke”. These transient [momentary] ischemic attacks, TIAs, result in no permanent injury to the brain, yet should serve as a warning of a possible future stroke.]

Identify a Stroke and Save a Life.

Identifying quickly whether a person is having a stroke can save their life or prevent them from a lifetime of disabilities.  Stroke is largely treatable – but time matters. Every second counts in getting help. The faster people are treated, the more likely they are to recover without permanent disability.

The symptoms to look for make up the letters B_E_ F_A_S_T. *

BALANCE:   Is the person experiencing a loss of balance?

EYES:         Has the person lost full or partial vision in one or both eyes? Is their vision blurry or double?

FACE:         Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

ARMS:        Have the person raise both arms up — does one arm drift downward?

Are they experiencing weakness in one or both arms?

SPEECH:   Is the person’s speech slurred or having difficulty finding words?

Can they repeat a simple phrase without sounding slurred or  strange?

TIME:     Time is of the essence! Getting help fast is key to preventing brain loss or death.

If they have any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately, even if the symptoms disappear. The faster a stroke victim gets to the hospital, the better the chance of a successful recovery without life-limiting or even fatal results.

(The American Heart Association advises the public to NOT take aspirin during a stroke, since ruptured blood vessels may bleed even more.)

 Stroke and Inflammation

When stroke occurs, the nerve cells in the affected part of the brain die and immune cells rush into the area to clean up the dead cells.

This inflammatory response is essential to forming new nerve cells and for repair and healing, but uncontrolled inflammation can lead to further damage to the brain. As is always the case, immune homeostasis, the right balance of inflammatory responses, is needed for a rapid and complete recovery.

 

A Personal Note:

Through the years, many whom I have advised to balance their immunological responses, have recovered at a significant level after their stroke. Of course, their recoveries may have been coincidental to immune re-balancing, but it certainly is prudent to strive for immune homeostasis, immune balance, when healing.

 

Dr. Hellen is available at 302.265.3870 (EST, USA) for discussions as to the role of immune homeostasis for optimum health.  There is no charge for the first 30 minutes of the consult.  She may be contacted at: drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info, or use the contact form. 

 * Thanks to nyp.org
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2858674/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1868538/
stroke.ahajournals.org/content/44/6_suppl_1/S74.full
www.heart.org
www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/what-stroke/ischemic-stroke
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27076418
www.nhlbi.nih.gov/research/reports/2005-cvd-events/howard
www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/scientists-identify-main-component-brain-repair-after-stroke
www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v18/n12/abs/nn.4146.html
www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/04/15/stroke-treatment-to-fight-inflammation-could-harm-recovery

Shirley Wang published an article in the WSJ titled “New View of Depression: An Ailment of the Entire Body”. Her lead-in stated: “Scientists are increasingly finding that depression and other psychological disorders can be as much diseases of the body as of the mind. People with long-term psychological stress, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder tend to develop earlier and more serious forms of physical illnesses that usually hit people in older age, such as stroke, dementia, heart disease and diabetes”.

Ms. Wang reported that Dr. Owen Wolkowitz at the University of California, San Francisco thinks of depression as “a systemic illness”, rather than a mental or brain disease. Dr. Wolkowitz found that
“[D]epression is associated with an unusually high rate of aging-related illnesses and early mortality”, or “accelerated aging”. He also points out that individuals who are aging more rapidly and/or are ill, have shorter telomeres than expected.

[Division is essential for most healthy cells. Telomeres are the protective tips of chromosomes that guide the chromosomes during cell division. Every time a cell divides, the telomeres shorten in length. Eventually there is little or no telomere resulting in an inability of the cell to divide efficiently. Eventually the cell dies. Some investigators are of the opinion that the length of telomeres is a predictor of longevity.]

There appears to be a strong association of inflammation with shorter telomeres. Senescent cells, which are unable to divide any longer and have almost non-existent telomeres, produce high concentrations of immune factors, cytokines, that regulate genes that result in inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is found in a myriad of diseases including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer multiple sclerosis, dementia, as well as depression. Heightened levels of inflammation are found in smokers and the obese. Each pack of cigarettes smoked results in a 18% shortening of telomeres, and the telomeres of obese women are shorter than those of lean women. Using other biomarkers, both smokers and obese individuals have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies than the general population.

Depression results in inflammation and inflammation “feeds” depression. The same cytokines that cause inflammation, pro-inflammatory cytokines, under other circumstances may be anti-inflammatory.
Data from studies demonstrate that depressed individuals have an imbalance of pro- and anti-inflammatory factors.

Some practitioners suggest that depressed patients need to “boost” their immune responses. Instead, “boosting” the immune response, i.e., inflammation, may only exacerbate the disease.

Because of the complexity of immune responses, it is important to let the body find its own “set” point. This is why achieving immune homeostasis, immune balance, is essential for good health.

http://twinsuk.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Valdes-.lancet.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23136552
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1868538/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17705097
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022395609001241
http://drhellengreenblatt.info/2011/09/smoking-inflammation-immune-homeostasis-balance/

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