Human circulatory system is made up of arteries, veins and tiny capillaries, besides the heart. The main function of arteries is to carry oxygenated blood as well as nutrients to tissue and organs. When the heart pumps, the blood is carried through this vessel. Normally the arteries are quiet elastic.
Arteries become stiff due to biological aging and a condition called arteriosclerosis. In arteriosclerosis inflammatory changes in the endothelium of the artery plays a major role is making it stiff, especially large arteries. Arterial stiffness is a major cause for heart attack and stroke.
What Are The Causes Of Arterial Stiffness?
A pulse is generated when the heart contracts. During each heart beat which is called as systole, blood is pushed out from the heart. And during each diastole a period between two beats (diastole) blood gets filled in the heart. A pulse is a type of energy wave that passes on through the circulatory system. The speed of this pulse wave has relation with stiffness of artery.
It is the most common parameter for measurement of arterial stiffness. When the artery is compliant and elastic, the heart does not have to work hard.This means it has low pulse pressure. When the blood vessel is stiff and hard, the pulse pressure is wide. This will cause increase in blood pressure.
The most common causes of arterial stiffness are as follows:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sedentary life
- Lack of physical exercise.
- Too much of alcohol.
- Inflammation due to certain diseases such as arthritis.
- High amount of LDL cholesterol in blood.
Besides aging, arterial hardness develops because of deposition of fat in the walls of artery. Deposition of cholesterol in the walls will cause calcification and increased fibrosity of the artery. As the plaque grows it narrows the lumen of the artery thus reducing blood supply. This may lead to angina, heart attack, stroke, congestive cardiac failure. The risk increases if any close relative is having arterial hardening and high cholesterol.
Natural Remedies To Reverse Arterial Stiffness
Arterial stiffness may increase with age or may develop as a result of atherosclerosis in most of the patients. It has been found to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. At present there are many conventional medicines that can have an influence in decreasing arterial stiffness. Besides medications there are several ways that may improve arterial stiffness. Living a healthy lifestyle is the main factor contributing reversal of arterial stiffness.
- Exercise: Regular exercise will help the blood vessels to be more elastic. It will reduce its stiffness. Simple exercise for even 30 to 40 minutes such as walking, jogging, cycling swimming can make lot of difference.
- Smoking: Smoking is one of the greatest factors to cause hardening of arteries early in life. Smoking increases risk of atherosclerosis. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Fish oil: The omega 3 fatty acid found in fish and fish oil is found to be useful against stiffened arteries. It is believed that the oil works by reducing triglyceride level and at the same time increases the level of good cholesterol.
- Flax seeds: Eating a handful of flax seed daily is beneficial to reduce arterial hardening. Flax seed consists of omega 3 which has been found beneficial in reducing atherosclerosis and subsequent hardening of blood vessels.
- Reduce stress: Stress has been associated with rise in cholesterol level and blood pressure. Reduce stress by practicing yoga, meditation etc.
- If you are diabetic, you must control diabetes with medication, following healthy lifestyle and reduction in sugary intake. Exercise also plays important role in reducing blood sugar level.