COVID-19 brought new attention to lung function. But underlying that is really the issue of vascular health. Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), which results in patients going on a ventilator, is not a failure of the lungs, but the blood vessels lining the lungs. Those tiny vessels are particularly susceptible to damage caused by respiratory infections which cause leaking of fluid into the lungs, such as COVID-19.
There are many other issues related to the health of your blood vessels: poor circulation, especially in feet and hands, poor mental concentration, and increasing risk of stroke, aneurysms, or heart attack. Your blood vessels carry oxygen to all parts of your body, and your cells require continuous good oxygen flow to maintain health. Vascular disease can be subtle, without significant symptoms, until some stress causes failure, where we see leaking, clogging, or rupturing of vessels — with immediate damage as a result.
We are learning that vascular health also affects your immune system and levels of inflammation. A study published in Nature Immunology from the University of Illinois Chicago focused on the endothelial cells in the blood vessels of the lung. They discovered that these cells tell macrophages of the immune system when to stop attacking and to switch into a healing, low inflammatory mode. When the vascular health was poor, this signaling tended to malfunction. ARDS, such as happens to some acute COVID-19 patients, occurs as the immune system continues to attack and cause collateral damage to the tiny vessels of the lung.
This means that the health of your blood vessel cells not only determines their strength and resistance to breakdown, but also the regulation of immune system function. Again, these symptoms are silent, until stress brings out their deficiency. The inflammatory condition brought on by poor immune system signaling can affect any organ, or many organs simultaneously, and can be happening continuously at a low level, making it harder to bring chronic inflammation under control.
Blood vessels examined
Endothelial cells line the insides of all blood vessels. The tiniest capillaries still have them. They are responsible for delivering blood supply throughout your body. When damaged, neighboring endothelial cells multiply and fill in the gaps. New capillaries “sprout” from existing vessels by sending out pseudopodia, which matures into a tube and forms the new vessel. The sprout continues until it reaches another capillary, to which it connects, and then blood can start flowing through it. So an area of tissue that requires more blood flow will be the target of these new growths, gradually increasing the blood supply there. At least that is what happens in a healthy body.
When a blood vessel is damaged — perhaps a tear occurs in the inner lining of a vessel — the body’s repair process kicks in. Cholesterol, which we may think of as a villain, is vital to form a patch over the tear and restore function quickly. If you have poor vascular health, tears and damage to the endothelial linings occur more frequently, and more cholesterol patching is needed, and these patches are more jagged than the original vessel lining so they are prone to plaque build-up. If no vessel damage occurs, the cholesterol continues to circulate harmlessly, with the excess being recycled, waiting for when it is needed. LDL cholesterol is first used in repair, and HDL cholesterol significantly smooths out the roughness of the repair and recycles LDL, which is why high levels of HDL are beneficial. When cholesterol levels drop too low, blood vessel repair could be delayed or slowed and further vessel damage could occur. Good, strong blood vessels require repair less often, and if the repairs that are made are smooth, blood flows cleanly through the vessels, plaque build-up does not tend to occur because there are no rough edges for it to catch on, oxygenation to all tissues is better, and even small clogged vessels can be bypassed by the new vessels that are being formed.
Enemies of vascular health
Once again, the main enemy of health, in this case healthy blood vessel development and maintenance, is the Standard American Diet — although this is increasingly the global diet, unfortunately. Sugar, toxins, lack of nutrients, bad “building blocks” such as trans-fats that become part of the cell make-up, and high levels of animal fat all contribute to weakening vessels. Now add in a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, drugs, alcohol, and smoking, and you build a network of weak blood vessels throughout the body. Add a stressor, and the weaknesses appear as disease or a sudden, possibly fatal, rupture.
The enemies of vascular health are the same enemies of health in general. As we avoid them and build health, our vascular health rises, and this helps protect us against disease, which prefers to strike the weak and unhealthy. Vascular disease may remain silent until the body is stressed, and then the downfall may be rapid!
If you are not working on your health, chances are that it is degenerating. Your body is constantly in a replacement and rebuild mode, but if those replacements are of poor quality, you have to live with them until they finally get replaced. So now is the time to build well, and good health is likely to follow.
The immune system response and inflammation caused by unhealthy endothelial cells is just one more reason to build and maintain vascular health. Inflammation is a barometer, indicating trouble in the body. A study published in the Texas Heart Institute Journal found that one test group that lowered their CRP levels significantly, generally to a level below 2, showed a 50% reduction in cardiac events over those who’s CRP levels remained elevated. Inflammation has many causes, and we can add poor vascular health to the list.
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
Oxygen is the most important nutrient in the body. You can’t go longer than a few minutes without it or else you die. Oxygen is carried to all areas of the body by the red blood cells which flow through the vascular system: the arteries, veins, arterioles, venioles and finally through the smallest vessels-the capillaries. The root of all disease is inflammation, and inflammation is controlled in a great part by the vascular system. When one has inflammation of the blood vessels it is another part of the source of all inflammation in the body. How does this happen? As stated above, the diet, the lifestyle, the exercise and most of all the thoughts. As you think, so are you and your blood vessels. Are you thinking on thoughts of love and truth which bring forth peace and joy and calm in any storm or are you thinking on things of the world that bring fear, doubt, lack and stress? It is up to you what you choose to meditate on but it will decide how much inflammation you produce in your body and what quality of life you will live. Over the last 35 years we have specialized in mind-body medicine at Total Health Institute. Our Heart-Brain Entrainment Program and unique brain mapping technique is integral in every patient’s healing protocol. This is why over 10,000 patients have sought after our program from around the globe. Isn’t time you start changing your health today before you find a tumor or are diagnosed with a major health challenge which just makes balancing the mind-body even more difficult? Here are the options for getting help in your journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.