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Heart Disease -Can it be Reversed?
Dr Ross Walker
MB. BS (hons), FRACP, FCSANZ
Consultant Cardiologist
provides a specialist's view of heart disease and what we can do to prevent further problems. Here is his first installment of his ongoing blog.

Part 1 - Introduction

Be afraid, be very afraid. The biggest killer in our modern world is cardiovascular disease in all its forms. I said at the start of the COVID pandemic on television that if people were that concerned about their health & security, they should stop stockpiling toilet paper, but stockpile fruit & vegetables, along with exercise equipment as Cardiovascular disease kills one person in Australia every twenty minutes leading to around 55,000 deaths every year. Cardiovascular disease includes any disease that involves the heart and the blood vessels supplying the entire body.

The commonest type of cardiovascular disease is what is known as atherosclerotic vascular disease. This process can affect all the blood vessels in the body but particularly the coronary arteries (the arteries supplying blood to the heart), the carotid and vertebral arteries (the arteries to the brain) and the system of arteries supplying blood to the lower limbs.

What happens in atherosclerosis (AC) is the progressive build-up of fat and other substances in the wall of the arteries from a very early age. Who is affected by this condition? Almost everyone living in the modern world has a degree of atherosclerosis. In many ways, it is a disease of affluence.

If I removed your arteries and examined them under a microscope (and I promise I won’t as it creates an awful mess on the floor!), I would find at least some fat in the walls of your arteries. This doesn’t mean you will definitely experience some form of cardiovascular disease, but, it does mean that everyone with any fat in their arteries is at risk of a heart attack, stroke or sudden cardiac death.

I am also not suggesting that you have blockages in your arteries. This process occurs in the walls of the arteries for decades before it actually causes a blockage. If you imagine a doughnut, with the hole in the middle, this is where the blood flows through an artery, but all the action is happening in the wall.

There is no doubt that the more fat you have in your arteries, the greater your risk. But even small fatty plaques may rupture with large clots forming over these plaques, leading to some type of acute vascular event, such as a heart attack.

So why do you get this stuff in your arteries in the first place? Basically, because you are living against your physiology. You were designed to be a hunter-gatherer. In the next section, I’ll describe how we are living so much against our physiology in the modern world but suffice to say, if you lived with a lifelong cholesterol less than 3 mmols per L & a blood pressure around 100/60 or less, then this atherosclerotic process wouldn’t occur.

Try finding anyone in the modern world with these lifelong parameters. They may exist, but I’ve never seen them as patients.

In my next article, I’ll highlight the lives of the hunter-gatherer & contrast this with our modern existence.

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Heart Support Australia is keen to make contact with people who have had heart conditions or have family or friends with a heart condition.

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