Inflammation, Heart Disease, and the Most Effective Marine Oil
Inflammation is the silent killer of hundreds of thousands of Americans every year— and most of its victims have no idea how dangerous it is. Everyone has at some time during their lives had a part of their body that was visibly inflamed due to things such as an infected cut. What most people do not realize is that the conventional medical wisdom that once viewed heart disease as a plumbing problem now sees it as an inflammatory disorder.
Heart specialists were among the first to recognize the role inflammation played in cardiovascular disease. For generations, doctors had been educated to look upon heart disease as a plumbing problem. The theory was that, during the course of a person’s life, fatty deposits would build up inside major blood vessels until they became so blocked that blood supply to a part of the heart was cut off. This was called a heart attack. A complex molecule called LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, provided the raw material for the deposits. Doctors drew the obvious conclusion that anyone who had a high level of LDL cholesterol had a greater risk of heart disease.
The problem with that view was that about half the people who had heart attacks did not have an elevated level of LDL cholesterol. As imaging technology improved, doctors found that the most dangerous plaques were not necessarily large enough to be considered life threatening. Something else was at work. Something was causing these plaque deposits to burst and create large clots that cut off blood supply to the heart.
In the 1990s, Dr. Paul Ridker, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, became convinced that an inflammatory response was causing the plaque to burst and block blood vessels. To test his theory, Dr. Ridker looked for one of the body’s markers of chronic inflammation. He chose C-reactive protein (CRP), which is produced by the liver in response to a signal of inflammation. During an acute illness, such as a bacterial infection, the level of CRP increases from 10mg/L to 1,000mg/L. By 1997, Dr. Ridker and his colleagues had shown that apparently healthy men who had the highest CRP levels were three times more likely to experience a heart attack, as compared with men who had low levels of CRP in their blood.
Doctors are still speculating about the mechanism that causes a plaque deposit to burst. There is, however, one theory that has more adherents than most. The theory is that, as the level of LDL increases in the blood, some of it seeps into the lining of the coronary arteries. Macrophages are alerted to the presence of an invader and enter the tissue to repel the foreign material. If the cytokine signals increase the inflammation process instead of winding it back, the plaque will become unstable. This causes the plaque deposit to burst and block a blood vessel.
Whatever may be the full truth of the bodily processes involved, there is overwhelming evidence that inflammation plays a part. The question is, what can we do about it?
According to figures compiled by the US government, about 500,000 Americans die every year as a result of heart disease. Despite this death toll, the public seem to cruise through life without applying a lot of thought to maintaining or restoring the health of their bodies— until some sort of crisis forces them to pay attention. For a sizeable number of such people, the crisis comes in the form of a fatal first heart attack. Those who survive their first heart attack, or those who have been fortunate enough to recognize the warning signs of a looming problem, have to consider what to do about their situation.
Doctors agree that the first things people need to do are change their lifestyle and diet. Okay, so you have resolved to visit your doctor for a heart check, to begin a supervised exercise program, and to change your diet to steamed or raw vegetables, fish and lean meat, and to cut out trans fats such as margarine. There are a few things to be wary of when you do this. First, almost all manufactured food items contain some form of trans fats. Margarine is the most obvious, but even the seemingly innocent factory bakery cookie is usually loaded with trans fats. Trans fats allow for an easier flow during the production process and give the item a longer shelf life. The fact that trans fat kills the people who eat it does not seem to be of concern to the food manufacturing industry. Respected medical author and professor of medicine, Dr. Georges Halpern, MD PhD (who is Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the University of California), has described trans fats as “a heart attack in a box.”
Elsewhere in your diet, you can begin to introduce marine oil to both lower your LDL cholesterol level and help your body to get its inflammatory responses back to normal. An abundance of published research shows that marine oils offer these benefits. To get enough marine oil to make a meaningful difference would require you to adopt the diet of the Inuit or traditional Japanese fishermen, whose low heart disease rates attracted the attention of medical researchers. This led to the discovery of the health benefits of marine oils. If, however, eating several pounds per day of oily fish such as salmon or tuna is not one of your fondest aspirations, there are alternatives.
The most effective and easiest way to introduce marine oil into your diet is the New Zealand green-lipped mussel. First, a word of warning. The therapeutic benefits of this mussel oil are destroyed by exposure to the atmosphere and heat. To date, there is only one patented process for the extraction of the oil in a form that maintains its therapeutic benefits. The only product in the world that is the result of this process is called Lyprinol. In his book, The Inflammation Revolution (Square One Publishers, ISBN 0-7570-0283-8), Professor Georges Halpern examines research by various doctors who showed that Lyprinol was 200 times more potent than Max-EPA; 250 times more potent that other green-lipped mussel products; 350 times more potent than evening primrose oil; 350 times more potent than salmon oil; and 400 times more potent than flax seed oil.
Research has also shown that as an anti-inflammatory, Lyprinol was as effective as prescription synthetic pharmaceuticals, but did not have any of the side effects or potential for adverse interactions with other drugs. A great deal of this research was done by Dr. Michael Whitehouse of Brisbane, Australia. The published journal articles can be found online by putting the words “Lyprinol clinical trial Whitehouse” into a search engine. For those who are so inclined, there’s a lot to read.
Another important feature of the mussel oil detailed by Professor Halpern in his book is that unlike fish oil, it does not inhibit blood platelet function, so does not cause bleeding. For those who have a scientific interest, the mussel oil is a 5-lipoxygenase pathway modulator, which was established in work done by Dr. B. Dugas in a paper called Lyprinol inhibits LTB4 production by human monocytes, which was published in the journal Allergie et Immunologie (volume XXXIII number 7, 2000, pages 284-289).
By modulating the body’s inflammation response, the mussel oil has been shown to inhibit the eruptions of plaque that lead to heart attacks— and that’s good news for health conscious Americans.
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