What is Inflammation?
While inflammation protects your body from infection and disease it can also be your body’s worst enemy. Inflammation is a normal immune system response that plays an important role in healing. White blood cells and other chemicals aim to remove any harmful substances from the body. However, inflammation can also indicate an underlying disorder. It contributes to both vulnerable plaque formation and to plaque rupture which leads to heart attacks and strokes.
Elevated blood levels of a protein called C-reactive protein indicate inflammation. With advanced testing a patient’s inflammatory state and cardiovascular risk can be assessed.
Nearly 50% of all heart attacks and strokes occur in patients with ‘normal’ cholesterol levels.
Research suggests that inflammation within the arterial wall can be a primary risk contributor for cardiovascular events. Although lipid screening is important, it does not provide a complete picture. Monitoring inflammation may help to reduce risk and aid in targeted treatment.
Health problems linked to chronic inflammation:
Abnormal Cell Growth
The process of inflammation is initiated by cell-signaling chemicals known as cytokines. When these cytokines remain active long-term, abnormal cellular development can occur and cause healthy cells to become abnormal.
Contrary to what scientists have believed for years, inflammation (not cholesterol) is the primary culprit when it comes to cardiovascular problems. The body responds to inflammation in blood vessels by coating them with cholesterol, which protects them from damage.
Brain cells are particularly susceptible to the effects of chronic inflammation. In fact, inflammation has been identified as a primary factor in the development of the beta-amyloid brain plaques that are the hallmark of severe forms of cognitive decline.
The effect of inflammation may be one you’re already familiar with. Joints are particularly prone to inflammation, which manifests as stiffness, popping, pain and loss of mobility.
Did you know that inflammation is a primary factor in the development of fine lines and wrinkles? Inflammation has also been linked to dryness, itchiness and certain skin conditions.
An inflamed digestive tract can make you prone to digestive maladies ranging from heartburn to constipation. Not only that, inflammation in your digestive tract can result in decreased absorption of important nutrients.
One of the lesser known consequences of chronic inflammation is difficulty with losing weight. Research has shown that inflammation is associated with certain gut bacteria that seem to promote cravings for carbohydrates.