Hardening of the arteries – arteriosclerosis generally refers to when the arterial wall becomes thickened and loses elasticity. Arteriosclerosis is one of the main culprits of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease – what together are called cardiovascular disease.
We have two types of blood vessels in our body; Veins and Arteries. Arteries and veins both carry blood around the body, and they each have three main layers of tissue (a ring of endothelial tissue at the centre of the blood vessel surrounded by a layer of muscle and elastic fibres, which is surrounded by a layer of connective tissue).
However, there are several differences between them. Arteries carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body, whereas the role of veins is to bring blood from the body back to the heart. With the exception of the pulmonary artery, all arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. All veins, with the exception of the pulmonary vein return deoxygenated blood to the heart. The pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated from the heart to the lungs and the pulmonary vein bring the oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart to then be pumped to the rest of the body through the arteries.
What is the role of blood vessels in the regulation of blood pressure?
Arteries have a thick elastic muscle layer, whereas the muscle layer for veins is much thinner. This is because the heart pumps blood into the arteries at high pressures, so the walls of the arteries must be able to cope with the changes in pressure during a heartbeat. If they are unable to cope with the blood pressure changes, due to factors such as high blood pressure, they can become damaged leading to hardening of the arteries. Veins do not flex with activity or need to maintain normal blood pressure, hence veins have little effect on that blood pressure.
Hardening of the arteries – arteriosclerosis generally refers to when the arterial wall becomes thickened and loses elasticity. The arteriosclerosis process begins with changes to the endothelium – the innermost layer of the artery- causing white blood cells to stick to the endothelial cells of the artery. This weakens barrier between the endothelium and other layers of the artery.
This allows fats, cholesterol, calcium, platelets, and cellular debris to accumulate in artery walls causing plaques. Some plaques are unstable and can rupture or burst. When this happens, the plaque itself can block the artery or the ruptured plaque stimulates blood clotting inside the artery. The main causes of arteriosclerosis are;
- High blood pressure
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- High cholesterol
- Lack of good nutrition
- Lack of exercise
Arteriosclerosis is one of the main culprits of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease – what together are called cardiovascular disease.
What can we do?
There is no real treatment of arteriosclerosis. Medication and lifestyle changes can slow the progress of the disease. However, maintaining health arteries is the best course of action. Regular exercise, healthy eating can help slow down the progress of arteriosclerosis as does reducing your consumption of red meat. Stick to small portions of lean red meat or skinless poultry. Increase your fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to help maintain health arteries.
Recent studies have indicated that drinking wine can also have a positive effect on maintaining a healthy blood pressure level. This is often referred to as the “French paradox”. The French have a diet that is high in saturated fats but do not seem to suffer from as many high blood pressure related illnesses associated with a diet rich in saturated fats. This has been attributed to the polyphenols found in grapes that have a known positive effect in maintaining healthy blood circulation and blood pressure. However, the sugar and alcohol content of wine come with their own risks.
In recent years ‘super-foods’ have become quite popular as they provide the body with antioxidants and polyphenols that fight free radicals that can cause damage to the arterial wall leading to arteriosclerosis. These foods usually come in the form of a powder containing the same polyphenols found in grapes. The powder can be added to any drink or food and consumed regularly, even on a daily basis without the negative effects associated with alcohol and sugar. It is a practical and effective solution for people who are not accustomed to or want to drink wine but strive to live healthy.
One such superfood is VINIA. With over a decade of research to support its claims, one sachet of VINIA® per day contains antioxidants and polyphenols (40 mg), including resveratrol (5 mg) to support heart health and promote healthy blood circulation. This is equivalent to receiving the benefits of drinking one bottle of red wine or eating 1,000 grapes, without the sugar or alcohol.
• Improve blood circulation
• Keep arteries flexible
• maintain blood pressure already within normal range
• Fuels antioxidant activity in blood vessels and arteries