Sense and Nonsense of Dietary Supplements

Scientific evaluation of Cardiovascular health benefits of dietary supplements

Risk Factors of Cardiovascular Disease

Atherosclerosis  is a progressive inflammatory disease that most if not all of us start to develop during life. The antecedents of the inflammatory process leading to cardiovascular disease begin early in life. Fortunately, in the majority of people atherosclerosis does not become symptomatic during their lifetime. When it does, symptoms mostly occur around 50-70 years of age. At this stage the disease has already caused irreversible damage. The speed at which atherosclerosis progresses and the severity of the disease is influenced by a number of internal and external factors that either predispose an individual to develop cardiovascular disease or actively contribute to the propagation of the disease. The most important include: Age, gender, hypertension, high serum cholesterol levels, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), tobacco smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity and lack of physical activity. These factors together with family history of cardiovascular disease, psychosocial factors and some circulating inflammatory markers form the well-known risk factors of cardiovascular disease. The following videos show how the major risk factors contribute to cardiovascular disease:

High Cholesterol High blood pressure (Hypertension) Diabetes

Primary disease prevention by lowering the risk factors, high cholesterol, high blood glucose (Diabetes) and high blood pressure is the most effective preventive treatment of cardiovascular disease. The progressive disease process starts early in life and worsens over time, making early intervention pivotal. In an ideal situation early intervention can slow the disease process down to a point where symptomatic cardiovascular disease will not develop during one's lifetime. However, major side-effects of current preventive therapies hamper effective early intervention. Therefore there is an urgent need for effective primary prevention therapies that allow early intervention. Unfortunately currently available medicine have major drawbacks preventing their use in patients with elevated risk factors, but still a relatively low overall risk. This can be the case in relatively young people aged 45 with elevated bloodpressure (130-140 mmHg) and / or elevated cholesterol. Even though the atherosclerosis process has already started and is gradually worsening, these people do not recieve medical treatment. The recommended treatment for these subjects is lifestyle advice given by the general practitioner. The advised lifestyle changes include an increase in physical activity, a healthier diet, smoking cessation and a reduction in alcohol consumption. Although lifestyle and dietary changes are effective, this treatment fails in the majority of cases because of a lack of long-term compliance. These lifestyle changes have proven to be too difficult to maintain for the majority of people. As a result, most individuals with a low risk profile gradually progress toward a high-risk profile. Eventually, these individuals will receive medical treatment, with all related side effects. Better intervention strategies for subjects with low-intermediate cardiovascular risk are urgently needed.

Luckily novel discoveries on the medical benefits of compounds that naturally occur in our diets are more and more substantiating the possibility to positively influence atherosclerosis progression and thereby cardiovascular disease prevention. On this website we try to inform you on the state-of-the-art in research to nutritional solutions for cardiovascular disease prevention.

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