Dr. Roizen Explains Atherosclerosis

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Interviewer: When it comes to the omegas, we hear a lot about heart health. Can you explain what atherosclerosis is?

Dr. Michael Roizen: Atherosclerosis is hardening of the arteries. Normally, when blood flow comes down an artery, it expands with blood pressure, forcing it out and then contract. This elasticity is one of the great properties of our arteries, because it allows us to deliver blood where it's needed. So, if you're exercising a muscle in your leg, you want to expand the artery going to the leg. That elastic property is one of the properties that you want. Hardening of your arteries, which is atherosclerosis, means that it doesn't expand or contract. It just sits there like a dumb pipe, if you will. It doesn't blunt the increase in blood pressure you might get, or blunt the decrease in blood pressure you might get, when you're exercising. Atherosclerosis is the formation of plaque in the arteries that causes the arteries to be less flexible.

Let me continue with, what's the cause of atherosclerosis? Well, you already know some of the causes. High blood pressure bangs on the artery and causes separation of those cells. Your body automatically repairs the artery, but the repair that is used to patch those holes is LDL cholesterol.

So, what's the initial cause? What weakens those junctions between the cells inside your blood vessel wall? It is simple sugar. Sugar weakens the artery wall, blood pressure tears it, your body patches it over with LDL cholesterol, and that's where the stiffening of the arteries comes from both high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

The good news about omega 7; it lowers blood pressure as well as decreases the formation of the hardness of the arteries.

Interviewer: Building on that, can you talk about omega 7 and both good and bad cholesterol, and how the two are tied together.

Dr. Michael Roizen: Remember what I said. There's a patch that is applied to a tear between cells in your arteries. That patch is put in with LDL cholesterol and some of the excess is taken away with HDL cholesterol. That patch is the start of inflammation, the start of hardening of the arteries. Cholesterol isn't as key as blood pressure or keeping blood sugar down. Omega 7 not only keeps your blood sugar down, so you're less likely to have the tear in the first place, but it lowers your LDL cholesterol and the inflammation that accompanies the tear, to decrease atherosclerosis.


Dr. Michael Roizen explains what atherosclerosis and what causes it. Find out how sugar and cholesterol are associated with atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Dr. Roizen also explains what might help in decreasing atherosclerosis.

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