Understanding the connection between heavy metals and heart disease

by | Dec 20, 2016 | Blog, Heart Health, Heavy Metal Toxicity, Integrative Medicine | 0 comments

Understanding the connection between heavy metals and heart disease

Our bodies are exposed to environmental heavy metals like lead and mercury from our drinking water, food, dental amalgams, old leaded paints, and sometimes from atmospheric contamination from coal burning plants, depending on where you live. The body attempts to eliminate these heavy metals naturally, such as via its own chelating molecule, glutathione.

Unfortunately, much of the heavy metals end up getting stored in connective tissue like our bones. Accumulation of heavy metals in body tissues results in micro-dose exposure over a prolonged periods of time (long after the initial environmental exposure) which may eventually show up as heart disease or other chronic diseases.

In mainstream medicine, the cause of heart disease is in part understood simply as excess “bad” LDL cholesterol. Lower the cholesterol, lower the heart disease risk. Thus, the blockbuster status of Lipitor and other cholesterol-lowering drugs. But the story is neither that short or simple.

Heart disease often occurs as the result of chronic inflammation, such as that caused by prolonged exposure to toxic substances. The toxic substances include your standard refined carbohydrates, saturated and trans fats and alcohol, as well as less suspect air pollution, heavy metals, chemical hormone disruptors, etc.

Prolonged exposure can come in large doses (e.g chronic high intake of sugar) or small doses, like the example of heavy metals constantly leaking into the bloodstream from the bones. Prolonged micro-doses of lead prevents the relaxation and dilation (opening) of our arteries. Narrow arteries force your heart to exert more pressure just to get blood pumping through the arteries to get to where it needs to go. There, you have hypertension (aka high blood pressure).

In studies linking heavy metal toxicity to heart disease, lead levels that caused hypertension were always in the standard “normal range” i.e. sub-clinical – so that the average doctor would think nothing of it.

Another mechanism by which lead can led to heart disease is via oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when reactive oxygen species dominate in the bloodstream and cause damage to LDL cholesterol, making it into a sticky substance that can and will adhere to vessel walls if given the chance.

Is removal of heavy metals from your body the “cure” for heart disease? No, of course, not. Even after chelation therapy, you still have to live a prudent life – eating well, exercising, and avoid toxins whenever possible – to prevent recurrence.

However, recognizing heavy metals as a root cause of the atherosclerotic process, in which high oxidized LDL cholesterol and hypertension can be symptoms, is key to management of heart disease in many patients.

To schedule an appointment at MIM, please phone (905)294-2335, or complete the “Book An Appointment” form on this website.

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