Let me begin by saying that this article is more metaphoric with less scientific verbatim. The goal is to help my audience understand, remember and utilize what I am about to say to improved their heart health. This analogy that I am about to give is not new. In fact, I have given it at several talks, but chose not to write it down to avoid critics and scientific debate.
We learn a lot of medical jargon and statistics in our medical career, but much of it is useless unless translated into words that patients can relate to. Think of our heart as a mechanical pump and all the vessels in our body as pipes similar to the pipes that carry water in our home. The pipes are linked to the pump in an enclosed system. Initially the pipes function well. They can expand in size when pressure is high and retract in size when pressure is too low to maintain constant pressure similar to our constant blood pressure when we are young. Kids rarely get diagnosed with high blood pressure or dizziness for this same reason. But as time progresses, the pipes get old and are no longer compliant or stretchy. As a result they crack with pressure, and continue to crack with ongoing pressure variance. The ebb and flow of water from the cracks lead to calcium and mildew deposits in the pipes that eventually narrow down the pipes, until one day, a hair or something small gets caught and the whole pipe fails, flooding the home. Our vessels do the same with age, with loss in compliance, our vessels sustain intimal or vessel lining tears or injury which leads to a cascade of healing that aligns calcium, fat and pro inflammatory cells to the vessel injury sites, thus narrowing the vessel down to the point where blood clots can easily form as it traverses abnormally slow through the narrow vessels leading to a heart attack.
So prevention is to try and maintain a good constant blood pressure, avoid stress which can lead to variances in blood pressure that your PCP may not catch. This is why blood pressure or stress is still a silent killer. Cholesterol is still important, but without injury from uncontrolled blood pressure, it cannot be recruited to cause plaque in our vessels.
Finally, to add to the importance of blood pressure and cholesterol control, is the daily intake of aspirin 81 mg. This small aspirin may help slow or prevent clots from wanting to form in an abnormal or even normal vessel. Please email me at [email protected] and let me know if you enjoyed this frank discussion. I have enjoyed this opportunity and thank you for your time.
Your local heart doc, -Long B Cao MD, FACC
Disclaimer: The contents of this article, including text and images, are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a medical service. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.