Atherosclerosis is an abnormal hardening of the inner layer of blood vessels and is often referred to as a “furring” of the arteries. The condition takes place with time and imposes serious threats on vital organs of body. Typically, atherosclerosis begins in early adolescence, but may remain undiagnosed or become evident until the patient suffers a heart attack, strokes and various other health issues that can result in fatal consequences. Turmeric, the magical spice that gives your curry its characteristic yellow color holds the key to help to lower bad cholesterol in blood and also prevents accumulation of it inside your arteries that could lead to multiple heart conditions. Turmeric now has proven role in preventing the onset of atherosclerosis and its complications.
Studies have confirmed that curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, plays an important role in lowering the levels of LDL or low-density lipoproteins, most commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol” – for reasons as LDL gets accumulated inside arteries making the way for blood smaller. Generally, LDL is essential for body’s proper functioning as it surrounds fatty acids and keep them soluble. But the sad news is excessively high levels of LDL are known to contribute to high cholesterol and plays a major role in the development of heart disease.
To make things more complicated, it has been found that when LDL gets oxidized, it turns into “foam cells,” that accumulate in the inner walls of arteries. This phenomenon puts an importance to prevent oxidation of LDL and also to isolate compounds that might decrease the amount of LDL in body.
The age old spice turmeric (haridra) with its diverse properties of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, proposes itself to be a promising agent in lowering and controlling the incidences of atherosclerosis by acting upon the bad cholesterol.
Signs and Symptoms of Atherosclerosis
- Mostly the symptoms of atherosclerosis are not apparent till the time there is significant narrowing or blockage occurs.
- Plaque deposits causing blockage in the path of blood flow usually present as pain in chest and legs post exertion.
- Shortness of breath and fatigue can also be experienced.
- Pain in the area of blocked artery.
- Muscular weakness in legs due to decreased blood circulation.
As atherosclerosis is characterized by clogging of arteries decreasing blood supply to the organ supplied by that artery, symptoms of moderate to severe atherosclerosis depends on which arteries are affected.
- One with atherosclerosis in the arteries of heart will have symptoms such as chest pain or feeling of pressure (angina) over the chest area.
- One with atherosclerosis in the arteries leading to the brain will have signs and symptoms such as sudden numbness or weakness in extremities, difficulty speaking or slurred speech, temporary loss of vision in one eye or drooping muscles in face. These signs and symptoms signal to a condition called Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), which, if left untreated, may progress to a stroke.
- One with atherosclerosis in the arteries of arms and legs, will have symptoms of peripheral artery disease, such as leg pain while walking (claudication) or pain in hand.
- One with atherosclerosis in the arteries leading to kidneys, will develop high blood pressure or failure of kidney.
Causes of Atherosclerosis
- High blood cholesterol level.
- High blood pressure.
- High blood sugar.
Risk Factors Related to Atherosclerosis
The following are considered as risk factors for atherosclerosis:
- High LDL or bad cholesterol levels.
- Low HDL or good cholesterol.
- Family history of heart disease.
- Consistently high levels of blood pressure.
- History of diabetes.
Complications Occurring from Atherosclerosis
The plaque related to atherosclerosis usually can cause of three type of cardiovascular disease:
Coronary Artery Disease: Also referred to as ischemic heart disease happens when arteries supplying blood to heart become narrowed and hardened due to deposit of plaque on their inner walls. As the blockage increases, the blood flow to heart muscle decreases. This can eventually lead to angina or heart attack. Most of the time heart attacks result from blood clots suddenly disrupting blood supply to the heart and can cause permanent damage to the heart. CAD (coronary artery disease) can also weaken the heart muscles and lead to following:
- Angina – chest pain or discomfort mostly related to exertion. This can be progressive or remain stable.
- Heart Attack – also known as myocardial infarction when due to insufficient blood supply, heart muscles starts to become damaged.
- Heart Failure – also referred to as congestive heart failure where heart is unable to pump and supply oxygenated blood to the whole body efficiently.
- Arrhythmias – Irregularity in the rhythmic heartbeat, it can be either too slow or too fast.
Cerebrovascular Diseases: These are the conditions where blood supply to the brain is hampered as blood supplying arteries have been narrowed with plaque. It most commonly results in following:
- Stroke – a very serious medical condition where brain sustains damage due to lack of blood supply or burst blood vessel.
- Transient Ischemic Attack – a temporary drop in the blood supply to a part of brain can result in brief symptoms quite similar to stroke.
- Subarachnoid Hemorrhage – this is a type of stroke where there is leakage of blood from vessels on to the surface of brain.
- Vascular Dementia – persistent impairment in mental functioning such changes in thinking ability and cognitive impairment which results issues with blood circulation.
Peripheral Arterial Diseases: When arteries of the lower limbs become narrowed with plaque, it results in poor blood circulation. This condition results in pain on walking and delayed healing of wounds.
Atherosclerosis can be diagnosed by:
Physical typical signs of narrowed arteries can be found such as:
- Decreased blood pressure in the affected limb.
- Weak or absent arterial pulses.
- Bruit (whooshing sounds) over arteries heard with stethoscope.
- Blood tests can be performed to detect level of cholesterol. Blood sugar is also checked as increased blood sugar contributes to risk of atherosclerosis.
- Doppler ultrasound using special ultrasonic device is performed to measure blood pressure at various points to assess the degree of blockage and speed of blood flow within the arteries.
- Electrocardiogram or ECG is used to check for electric signals to heart and evidence of previous episode of heart attack.
- Exercise stress test can be done to check heart functioning during physical activity.
- Ankle brachial index can be checked for assessment of blockage the in arteries of legs and feet.
- Cardiac catheterization and angiogram is ordered when severe blockage is suspected. A dye is injected through the catheter and as the dye fills the arteries the blockage is revealed.
- CT scan or MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) is indicated if the treating doctor deems it useful.
You can Prevent Atherosclerosis:
- It is very important to eat a healthy diet which is low in saturated fats and cholesterol.
- Avoiding processed foods such as cookies, margarine, fried foods etc. is recommended.
- To increase good cholesterol level, it is recommended to add fish to the diet twice per week.
- Lifestyle changes to include exercise of about 30 to 60 minutes per day, six days per week is highly advisable.
- Quitting smoking for smokers.
- Ideal body weight should be maintained and excessive weight should be shed.
- Stress management is advisable.
- Stringent blood sugar control is extremely important for diabetics.
- It is also prudent to control conditions associated with atherosclerosis, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes
Turmeric for Atherosclerosis – Multifold Effects and Benefits
There have been numerous studies suggesting that turmeric (haridra) can cure atherosclerosis because it has the ability to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and as such preventing plaque build-up in the arteries. Turmeric for atherosclerosis exhibits the following effects:
- When bad cholesterol or LDL oxidizes in the body, it leads to accumulation of fatty streaks along the arterial walls. Curcumin present in turmeric helps prevent arterial blockage as it inhibits this oxidation process.
- Furthermore, turmeric also acts as a vasodilator helping in the dilation (opening up) of the blood vessels and thus reducing the possibility of blockage. Also, turmeric has the ability of to prevent aggregation of blood platelets and inhibit blood clot formation.
- Turmeric is famous for its anti-inflammatory properties and as such prevents inflammatory deposits on the inner walls of the blood vessels.
- Anti-oxidant properties of the turmeric help reduce formation of free radicals which are highly reactive in order to prevent further inflammation.
- Curcumin contained in turmeric lowers LDL cholesterol and prevent its oxidation and thus suppressing the build-up of plaque in arteries which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Turmeric has a unique ability to prevent cholesterol production in the liver and also it blocks cholesterol absorption in the gut thus reducing LDL cholesterol oxidation in the lining of the arteries.
However, curcumin in common turmeric fails to exert 100% of its therapeutic effect due to:
- Poor bioavailability
- Less permeability and extensive systemic metabolism
- Need to be combined with additional compounds to improve absorption
- Turmeric root contains only about 3-5% of Curcumin
- Non-standardized powdered turmeric root entails intake of large dose in order to derive any benefit
Hence, to modulate the issues with common turmeric/curcumin, a novel formulation, SNEC 30 (Self-nano emulsifying curcumin 30 mg) has been developed. SNEC 30 is the latest generation of scientifically formulated bioactive co-developed by Arbro Pharmaceuticals Ltd, DSIR (Department for Scientific & Industrial Research, GOI) and Jamia Hamdard University.
SNEC 30 uses Self Nano-Emulsifying Drug Delivery System (SNEDDS) which makes the properties of Curcumin to multifold. SNEC 30 is patented through the prestigious United States Patent for drug delivery system that helps it to achieve maximum concentration in blood (Cmax) several times more compared to its’ closest rival. Self nano-emulsifying curcumin used in SNEC 30 acts fast with lower doses without causing any adverse effects.
SNEC 30 – Attacks on Atherosclerosis:
SNEC 30 is highly effective in controlling atherosclerosis as discussed below:
- SNEC 30 has the ability to prevent oxidation of bad cholesterol – uniquely patented Curcumin formulation present in SNEC 30 has antioxidant properties due to which bad cholesterol is not oxidized and thus deposits on arterial walls are not formed.
- Reduction of total cholesterol and absorption of clots – another important cause of atherosclerosis of aggregation of platelets and response of inflammatory cells at the site of injury. SNEC 30 exceptionally prevents this arterial thrombosis and aggregate formation and hence prevents cholesterol absorption in the gut.
- SNEC 30 reduces risk of atherosclerosis in diabetics – since diabetics have impaired response system, they are at an increased risk of clot formation and thus suffering from atherosclerosis. SNEC 30 has proven anti-atherosclerosis effect in diabetics. It reduces insulin resistance and body fat content also thus improving overall metabolic profile of the body.
- Curcumin in SNEC 30 promotes dilation of arteries – atherosclerosis is known to reduce supply of oxygenated blood in the body due to underlying arterial blockage. SNEC 30 relaxes the arteries thus opening them up and enabling good circulation.
- SNEC 30 has neuro-protective properties – it is able to reduce motor impairment such loss of muscle control or paralysis caused by stroke.
- SNEC 30 prevents platelet aggregation—recent studies have shown that Curcumin present in SNEC 30 has anticoagulant properties and thus helps in prevention of blood clot formation.
- SNEC 30 inhibits plaque formation – the medicine is proven to inhibit plaque formation on arterial walls as it stops proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells.
- SNEC 30 helps in weight loss – it helps in losing weight by inhibiting the differentiation of fat producing cells also known as adipocytes.
Dosage and Safety – SNEC 30 is completely safe even at very high doses but ideal dose should be customized according to individual body requirement. Trials generally report very few, if any, adverse effects of SNEC 30 even at very high dose. There have been no reports of toxicity following even large amount of turmeric ingestion.
All the information on this site is for the purpose of general education and in no way can substitute the consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor. It is highly recommended that you consult with your Ayurvedic doctor or health care provider to determine the individual requirements. Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children should not take any supplements without consulting their doctor.