At just one cell thick, the inner lining of your blood vessels, known as the endothelium, plays a crucial role as a regulator of all vascular health. Involved in both blood clotting and inflammation, the endothelium is the surface upon which many biochemical reactions occur daily. The Endothelium is the largest organ of the body, covering about a size of a tennis court by area. Endothelial dysfunction, a condition of impaired endothelial function, results in damage due to inflammation, oxidative stress, and immune mediators. Endothelial dysfunction is a key factor, occurring early in the development of coronary artery disease, hypertension, and driving all vascular atherosclerotic processes.
Endothelial dysfunction is closely linked to the lack of nitric oxide, a substance produced by the vessels but also available through conversion of naturally occurring food precursors, such as nitrates, into nitrites. Endothelial dysfunction is profoundly influenced by poor lifestyle choices, and many chronic conditions linked to such choices such as diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, emotional stress, infections, chemo/ radiation therapy. While there is a role for genetic influences, lifestyle accounts for most impact on the endothelial function. Diets high in simple sugars, unhealthy saturated fats, and lifestyles associated with toxic exposures, such as in smokers, or patients experiencing high levels of chronic stress, will consume nitric oxide, and promote endothelial dysfunction. Some medications, such as proton pump inhibitors, promote endothelial dysfunction by impairing conversion of nitrates into nitrites.
Ways to Improve your Endothelium Function
To determine if your endothelium is healthy, you can set up a testing appointment to quickly and noninvasively measure your degree of endothelial dysfunction at our office. In the meantime, if you suffer from high blood pressure or cholesterol, or have diabetes, take into consideration these tips to help create a healthy endothelium:
- Participate in daily aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, cardio machines, swimming, dancing, hiking, etc.)
- Increase your intake of green leafy vegetables, great sources of nitrates, and beets, with lean protein and healthy fats like olive oil and avocado.
- Particular foods may include: nuts, dark chocolate, green tea, spinach, kale, beets, watermelon, oats, garlic, and onions
- In addition to changes in diet, monitoring caloric intake is important if you are overweight.
- Stop smoking
- Enroll into a yoga or stress resiliency training program
Diagnosis and Treatment
At Integrative Cardiology Center of Long Island, we are here to help you prevent and treat endothelial dysfunction. At the root of many chronic conditions, endothelial function is a powerful regulator of vascular health. By treating our patients with a holistic approach, we engage them on a path to optimal energy and function for life. For more information about our holistic cardiology and functional medicine consultations, and holistic heart health programs please contact us at (516) 746-1103, or send us an email at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you!