Inflammation Can Cause Heart Attacks and Strokes

When a germ gets into your bloodstream, you are supposed to produce white blood cells and antibodies that help kill these germs. The white blood cells produce chemicals that cause swelling to bring fluid to carry body defense mechanisms, and other chemicals to call out other cells that increase swelling, redness and pain. So inflammation is good because it helps to protect you from infection. However, if you allow the inflammation to continue, or if your produce inflammation when you don't need it, swelling damages your tissues and you may suffer heart attacks, strokes, cancers, Crohn's disease, psoriasis, different types of arthritis, or even Alzheimer's disease.

The fatty plaque buildup that lines blood vessels often becomes inflamed because your white blood cells attack your own tissue rather than just germs. Fat cells are also known to turn out these inflammatory proteins. Other causes of inflamation include high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, and lingering low-level infections such as chronic gum disease. Inflammation is thought to weaken the fatty buildups, or plaques, making them more likely to burst. A piece of plaque can then lead to a clot that can choke off the blood flow and cause a heart attack.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins can reduce the inflammation and so does a daily dose of aspirin. People who are given antibiotics immediately after suffering a heart attack or severe chest pains have 40 per cent fewer repeat attacks over the next year. Several studies suggest that you prevent heart attacks by preventing inflammation, which can be caused by infections anywhere in your body, gum disease, diabetes, overweight, lack of exercise, obesity, smoking or high blood cholesterol levels. More information on these and other studies; journal references


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