– Take Another Look!
If you have heard of the term blocked arteries, one of several atherosclerosis symptoms, what horror did you conjure up in your mind? Blood vessels clogged up with fat and cholesterol?
This is an inadequate description that creates a false picture and ultimately leads to the wrong conclusions of how to treat the disease. But it certainly is an obstruction that can rightly be termed “blocked”.
I want you to think about a tube. It could be a garden hose, an inner tube of a bicycle tire, or something like that. Then think of a narrower tube that you insert into that one. Now you have a virtual model of how an artery looks like if your were to slice a section.
Now think of the inner-side of the inside tube. It can become inflamed. Sometimes this is caused when we drink too much alcohol, or consume too much acidic food and drink, or our blood becomes acidic. It can be caused by constant high blood pressure stressing at the turns and junctions of the inner artery wall (endothelial lining) causing injury. Whatever the cause, the artery develops a local injury. Now a build up of plaque in arteries begins.
But what is this plaque and why does it build up? Everyone has at least a few times in their life suffered a cut or abrasion. In normal circumstances your immune system would kick in and start to protect your body from harmful bacteria. Part of that defense system is to form a shield, a fibrous cap to protect the wound. Macrophages rush to the site to engulf any invaders. Then your body would go about repairing that wound using cholesterol, proteins, etc., from the INSIDE out. Once the wound heals the shield is no longer needed and is dissolved.
How Blocked Arteries Happen?
So what we see in the picture is some activity going on behind the inner wall, and the fibrous cap that has formed on the inner wall.
But because the cause of the injury continues to occur, the wound never heals and the shield remains inside the inner wall getting thicker and in danger of a rupture.
The bulge is also due to the build-up of macrophages, cytokines, cholesterol, and proteins, behind the inner wall bulging through into the artery. This bulge gets larger until it is blocking the artery completely.
Several dangers can present themselves now depending in which artery the injury occurs, and if a clot forms and breaks free from the ruptured fibrous cap.
If the plaque in arteries block completely anywhere in the system, it will cause problems. Oxygen-carrying blood if not able to reach the brain will cause stroke. Or if the injury or blockage occurs in the heart (coronary arteries) this can cause a heart attack. Even if this does not occur, the blood pressure continues to rise even higher exacerbating the problem.
Smooth Muscle Malfunction Causes Blocked Arteries
What is smooth muscle and what has it to do with blocked arteries?
Take a look at the artery model again. We will concentrate on the space between the inner tube and the outer tube. This is where we find the smooth muscles. These muscles cause the artery to constrict and relax. While they perform this they produce lactic acid.
In a healthy person, lactic acid is no problem but if we are unhealthy through bad diet our body pH becomes over acidic, the lactic acid sticks around, resulting in the malfunction of the smooth muscles. The end result is hardening of the arteries.
This is only a rough explanation of what is going on, but it is enough to help our understanding of what`s really taking place that causes blocked arteries.