The products that have been incriminated in recent times as being very prone to produce vessel disease are certain fats. These are collectively called lipids, and are of two main kinds. Cholesterol is one type, and triglyceride the other. It seems that both are of major import in predisposing to arterial disease.
Recent research shows that cholesterol is composed of two main parts, called high-density lipoproteins, FIDE, for short, and another called low-density fipoproteins, or LDL for short. It is also becoming quite evident that the LDL component is the key trouble making fact, the HUI, part is believed to confer some protection to the heart and blood vessels. Blood fats may be laid down on the internal vessel lining, and gradually build up. At the same time, they develop at these areas causing further vessel weakness.
This process may continue unabated for many years, even decades. It has been claimed that “hyperlipidaemia” (as it is technically called) can really commence during babyhood. The nature of the food given to babies in Western lands is now well established as predisposing to high cholesterol levels in infancy. Also, the high-starch foods used may be a potent factor in increasing the triglyceride levels, for most of this is derived from carbohydrates and refined flours and sugars.
As plaques develop in key areas, chiefly the vessels of the aorta, heart, brain and lower limbs weaknesses develop. More and more material is subsequently laid down over the original lesions. These may coalesce, and the vessel wall may gradually thicken. Disaster can strike suddenly and unexpectedly if a plaque loosens and becomes jammed in a vital coronary vessel. This can mechanically block off the supply of blood (and oxygen) to a major segment of the heart muscle.
If the vessel is a major one, then sudden death may take place. The heart is unable to continue its regular, rhythmical beating. A serious condition referred to as ventricular tachycardia develops and death can be instantaneous. Fortunately, this is by far the less usual outcome. Many more people sustain a coronary occlusion (or infarct) of lesser magnitude, so that only a smaller segment of heart is thrown out of action. Under these circumstances the risk factor, although serious, is less, and the chances of sudden death are reduced. Prompt attention and medical care can improve the patient’s chances of survival and a return to better health and normal living once more.
Apart from a plaque loosening and being transported to a vital area, other complications may take place. The roughened part may form the basis for the development of a clot, or thrombus. Little by little this may increase in size. Finally, the adherent clot may loosen and also have a similar mechanical effect in blocking a vital major vessel in the heart. This may also happen in the brain, where there are special risks, and if this occurs, a stroke takes place. In the brain tissues, the weakened wall may suddenly break down, and a cerebral haemorrhage take place. This is very common, and adds to the numbers of disasters and deaths from blood-vessel disease in most Western lands. Your browser may not support display of this image.