Health: Looking After Your Heart
Underlying Causes of Heart Disease
The root cause of coronary heart disease (CHD) is inflammation on the inside lining of the coronary arteries (blood vessels that supply blood to the heart).
Atheroma also known as atherosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries) are fatty deposits. Over time these fatty deposits become thicker and larger to the point where this formation hardens to become plaque thus restricting and reducing blood flow through the artery.
Another possible consequence are that blood vessels crack and rupture due to this plaque build up. When this occurs blood clots (thrombosis) form over the atheroma to the point where blood flow is completely blocked.
Atheroma is the underlying cause of various cardiovascular diseases such as angina and myocardial infarction (heart attack), angina, peripheral vascular disease (usually lungs, legs) and strokes.
Reducing inflammation is one area to address when trying to prevent heart disease. The essential fatty-acid (EFA) Omega-3 is a natural anti-infammatory which has been shown to be one key factor in reducing the likelihood of heart disease by reducing inflammation in the arteries.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine with American doctors over a 17 year period found those who had the highest level of Omega-3 at the beginning of the study had a 90% reduced risk of sudden cardiac death. Another interesting fact whilst reviewing that study is that the Omega-3 oils found in fish had a greater positive impact on reduced risk than Omega-3 oils from plant sources.
An Italian study of over 11,000 patients who had previously had a heart attack were given an Omega-3 supplement or an olive oil placebo. Those taking the Omega-3 supplement were 45% less likely to have a sudden cardiac death.
More Information: Why obtaining a healthy Omega-3:Omega-6 balance is beneficial?
 Blood Levels of long-chain n-3 fatty acids and the risk of sudden death, N Engl J Med 2002;346:1113-8.
 Dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E after myocardial infarction: results of the GISSI-Prevenzione trial, The Lancet, Volume 354, Issue 9177, Pages 447 - 455, 7 August 1999