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Heart Disease and Hypertension: The Leading Cause of Death

Despite the many billions of dollars that have been poured into research and treatment for cardiovascular disease in the United States alone, this preventable pathology continues to claim the lives of more people in the industrialized world than any other disease. It will claim the lives of over 500,000 Americans this year, next year, and for many years to come. At this time, there is nothing in the “pipeline” in terms of drugs or surgery that is expected to make a difference in the incidence of this disease. And due to lifestyle factors such as elevated stress, processed food intake, and lack of exercise, cardiovascular disease incidence is expected to worsen over the next ten to twenty years.

Here is a list of facts pulled from the Center for Disease Control’s website pertaining to heart disease:

  • In 2008, over 616,000 people died of heart disease. Heart disease caused almost 25% of deaths—almost one in every four—in the United States.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2008 were in men.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease. In 2008, 405,309 people died from coronary heart disease.
  • Every year about 785,000 Americans have a first heart attack. Another 470,000 who have already had one or more heart attacks have another attack.
  • In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Each minute, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.
  • In 2010, heart disease will cost the United States $316.4 billion. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity

The Mechanism

The initial step in the process of cardiovascular disease (which leads to heart attack and stroke) is damage to the internal artery wall. This damage is primarily caused by high blood pressure, smoking, elevated homocysteine, free radical inhalation from polluted air, and oxidative stress secondary to a lack of antioxidants consumed through vegetables in the diet. Once the damage to the internal artery wall outpaces the ability of the body to repair it, we end up with atherosclerosis (plaque), which creates a vicious cycle of higher blood pressure, further damage, further plaque build-up, etc.

Atherosclerosis

Artery Restriction

The build up of plaque that you have surely heard about is known as atherosclerosis. If this soft plaque calcifies / hardens it is often referred to as arteriosclerosis (or simply “hardening of the arteries”). It’s important to understand the basic physiology associated with the formation of this plaque, since without this first step in the process, heart disease would not occur.

For atherosclerosis to occur, there must first be damage done to the artery walls. As mentioned above, the primary damage to the artery wall come from: Smoking, Hypertension, Homocysteine, Trans Fat consumption (hydrogenated oils), inhaled pollutants, and lack of antioxidants consumed in the diet.

Once the damage is done, foam cells come to form a sort of soft scab over the crack in the wall of the artery, and once it thickens and adheres firmly the underlying arterial tissue heals. Then the “scab” softens and dissolves away as a consequence of antiinflammatory mechanisms that are normally engaged. If a person is in a proinflammatory state and lacking the normal anti-inflammatory responses (due to poor nitric oxide production, for example) that are required to remove the plaque (aka "atheroma") , the the plaque sticks around (literally) and eventually thickens and hardens, and becomes very difficult to remove and will not typically be removed. This process narrows the artery as depicted above, which consequently raises the pressure in the artery, which further damages the artery, which leads to more plaque formation, and this becomes a very vicious cycle that eventually leads to a fully blocked artery or a piece of the plaque breaks away and becomes lodged in the brain or the lung (stroke or pulmonary embolism). Not good.

The Role of Nitric Oxide

As mentioned earlier, the internal artery wall is lined by a single-cell thick layer called the endothelium. When the internal wall is damaged, the endothelium suffers along with the rest of the internal wall. It is the endothelium that produces nitric oxide, which signals the smooth muscle within the artery wall to relax and lower pressure in the system. Nitric oxide also has anti-inflammatory effects at the artery wall, which prevents the damage in the first place or mitigates the effects of the damage once it’s done. In other words, nitric oxide minimizes the damage by keeping blood pressure low and under control, and when damage does occur, it regulates the impact that it the damage has and prevents it from spinning out of control.

Nitroxyl is the only nitric oxide supplement at the moment that combines nutrients with the greatest amount of validation in the medical literature and has added ingredients to maximize the benefit of increased nitric oxide production to the heart, arteries, brain, intestinal tract, and other tissues. The majority of nitric oxide supplements on the market are using L-arginine which is non-specific and inefficient in terms of nitric oxide produced versus dose taken.

The beneficial effect seen in the arteries will dramatically reduce heart attack and stroke risk, largely through the relaxation of the artery and the anti-inflammatory effect in the arterial system. Subsequently, enhanced circulation to the legs and arms, hands and feet, and genital region will alleviate, prevent, and often reverse conditions such as erectile dysfunction (typically referred to as natural ED treatment), peripheral neuropathy, Raynaud's disease, and just poor circulation in general.

Nitroxyl supplementation is proven to prevent and even reverse atherosclerotic plaque build-up in the arteries, which dramatically reduces the risk for heart attack or stroke.