Viscosity: The Real Cause of Vascular Disease

March 29, 2012

Viscosity: The Real Cause of Vascular Disease 

 Reference:  Sloop: Med Hypothesis Did you ever wonder just why we get plugged arteries in our heart, neck, aorta, and legs, but not in our arms or our brains?  When you ponder that thought long enough you end up realizing that we get artery disease where there is the highest friction in the wall of the artery.  But that changes the way we think about artery disease.  Instead of being a localized, chemical reaction, it suggests that we need to think about our arteries being the victims of physics, not chemistry.  

Maybe it’s the trauma inflicted by a moving column of fluid that causes damage to the wall of the artery.  That damage then is caused by the friction of a moving column of fluid.  The immune system tries to repair that damage and the slippery slope of an immune response, inflamed white cells and then plaque build-up begins.  The more “sticky” or viscous a fluid it, the more trauma it will convey to the wall of the artery, starting the damaging process that ends up with a plaque that then ruptures and causes a heart attack. 

 That’s the argument made by Ralph Holsworth and Jonathon Wright in Holistic Primary Care referring to a concept published by Sloop in Med Hypothesis.  All the standard risks for heart disease also make the blood more sticky, or viscous.  For example, higher cholesterol levels really mean a higher particle count of smaller, dense particles.  Another example: we know that having inflammation anywhere in your body turns into higher levels of inflammatory proteins called fibrinogen.  That makes your blood “thicker” or stickier.  

Flossing, for example, has been shown to reduce gingivitis, a known risk factor for heart attack.  High blood pressure would deliver a faster column of fluid.  That would deliver more trauma. There are some lifestyle choices that seem to be able to reverse vascular disease.   Eating a high fiber, vegetable-based diet, as advocated by Esselstyn has had some pretty dramatic findings.   Bill Clinton has gone to see Dr. Esselstyn and has a documentary on Youtube you can watch if you are curious.  

How does that relate to viscosity?   Well, there is some suggestion that eating a plant-based diet will give you more basic electrolytes in your blood based on magnesium and potassium salts that are abundant in vegetables.  That may make your red cells have a different surface charge and become less aggregable.  Then they flow better. What is true and now well accepted is that you can make a dramatic improvement in your vascular disease with eating abundant vegetables.   The more the better.   The weight loss of the Adkins diet based on pure meat is being currently used as a first step of turning off inflammation, and then transitioning to more vegetables and no grains or low glycemic foods. 

 WWW. What will work for me?  This is pretty abstract theoretical stuff.  But the idea is compelling.  Can we reduce the “thickness of our blood” by eating more vegetables?   And does that explain how vegetables reverse coronary artery disease?  A common thread may be that both high vegetable and high meat diets avoid grains, wheat in particular.  So, I take home: eat less bread.  Eat more broccoli.  Simple.

Pop Quiz

1.    What is viscosity?                   Answer: the stickiness of a fluid

2.   Artery disease happens in particular arteries.  What do they have in common that explains the site of damage?                  Answer:  all the blockages to arteries happen at sites of great force of flow damaging the wall of the artery.   It's physics, not chemistry, that's causing the damage to the artery.

3.   What else makes for more viscosity?                      Answer: anything that increases inflammation.   Glycation will also do it.

4.   What might more vegetables do to viscosity?              Answer: by alkalizing your blood a little, you add more alkaline charges to the surface of red cells, making them more "slippery" or able to flow through or past blood vessels.

Column written by Dr. John E Whitcomb, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield WI,