VIDEO: How Inflammation Can Hurt Your Heart

When it comes to heart attacks and stroke, your cholesterol level isn't the only factor. In fact, half of all people who show up at the emergency department having a heart attack have NORMAL cholesterol. But what they have in common with other heart attack victims is inflammation. Here's how inflammation impacts your heart.




Doug Dunning, MD, Affiliate since 2013:
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killers of Americans. And it outpaces all of the cancers we’re so concerned about and the other causes of death.

So, if we can impact the incidence of cardiovascular disease, we can make a huge difference in people’s lives.

Merritt Dunlap, MD, affiliate since 2013
Cardiac disease is not simply about cholesterol. It’s much deeper than that. It has to do, yes, partly with cholesterol, but it much more has to do with inflammation and all the things that drive it.

Margaret Pelitere, MD, affiliate since 2013
Well, what does inflammation have to do with heart disease? That’s a really good question and I think inflammation is something patients have usually heard of, but usually it’s in the form of “I have a toe problem” or plantar fasciitis or something. There’s inflammation in my body.

Merritt Dunlap, MD:
The information is a biochemical process that goes on that affects the lining in your arteries and the wall of your arteries. In fact, that’s where the whole disease process takes place.

Doug Dunning, MD:
We know that the plaque in blood vessels doesn’t form like scale inside a pipe. It actually forms inside the wall of the vessel. We don’t want to see any plaque, but more importantly we don’t want inflamed plaque. 

Merritt Dunlap, MD:
When inflammation is present, what it does is it impairs the function of your endothelium, which is a liner in your arteries, subsequently the components that can make up the plaque, the oxidized LDL and the white blood cells, which are normal constituents of your blood, start to be able to invade the wall of the artery in the inflammatory process continues to propagate the whole problem.

Doug Dunning, MD: 
It's plaque rupture that causes most heart attacks and strokes. It is inflammation that is behind most plaque rupture. If we can detect that inflammation early on, we can take a lot of different actions to try and reduce that inflammation and prevent catastrophic results.

Steve Wilson, MD, affiliate since 2013: 
The beauty of actually doing preventive medicine, we try to catch it along the way before the disease actually develops. And then treat it at that point, rather than waiting till a patient has had a heart attack or had a stroke. Then we're now treating them when everything is already out of control.

Margaret Pelitere, MD
You really want to catch somebody before they actually have a heart event. That's really what we're trying to do. We're trying to prevent the heart event. We're trying to prevent the heart event, the stroke event, any vascular event. And so the having more time allows you to not only be able to talk to the patient more, but also the tools that we have, where we can look into whether this person actually has the beginning and the basics of starting heart disease.

Steve Wilson, MD:
As far as what I want patients to know about heart disease, I want them to understand that we don't have to wait to catch it. We actually can catch it early. That's really the important point. We need to understand that this really is a preventable disease in most cases. If we use the tools and technology that's available now, we can find this disease and actually start doing something about it before it actually becomes an event.

Doug Dunning, MD:
We have to take care of ourselves. You can be the greatest father, husband and income earner, but if you don't take care of yourself, it doesn't make any difference.

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