Taking Blood Pressure

What Causes High Blood Pressure and Atherosclerosis?

Cardiovascular diseases are conditions involving the blood vessels and heart. They are mostly caused by problems in the arteries — typically when these blood vessels become stiff and less flexible. (vii.201)

The heart pumps blood into arteries, the flexible blood vessels that pipe blood throughout the body. The materials cells need to stay healthy (e.g., oxygen and nutrients) are transported via the cardiovascular circulatory system. Factors that cause blood vessels to thicken, clog up, and slow down circulation or cause the heart to malfunction lead to heart disease. (vii.202)

Hypertension Risk Factors

Experts say the direct cause of hypertension isn't actually known in the majority of cases. However, some things are known to increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. These include: (vii.203)

High Blood Pressure figure

Figure VII.7: Hypertension Risk Factors

Atherosclerosis Risk Factors

Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaque inside arteries. It slows down and may even completely block blood flow. Inflammation from damage to the inner lining of artery walls triggers the condition. In addition to certain chemotherapy drugs and air pollution, some of the culprits that cause artery damage include: (vii.193-194202)

Atherosclerosis figure

Figure VII.8: Risk Factors for Atherosclerosis

Effects of Aging on Arteries

Hardening of the arteries is also linked to aging, the main risk for heart disease. As we age, there are a number of factors at the cell level that helps make this happen: (vii.201204)

  • Free radical damage and inflammation.
  • Accumulation of AGEs — sugar-protein molecules that contribute to plaque formation and decreased functioning of arteries and the heart.
  • Increased Type I collagen in blood vessels, a structural protein that can harden arteries.
  • Reduced production of elastin — a structural protein that keeps arteries flexible.

Fortunately, many of the compounds in turmeric (especially curcumin) can help. Turmeric compounds counteract the risk factors and cell changes that contribute to heart and artery disease. (vii.22113193204-207)

Advance glycation end-products. (vii.201)
In both production of and collagen deposits. (vii.201)

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