Cardiovascular diseases, Viscosity and MedicLights
Many studies associate red blood cell aggregation and high blood viscosity with cardiovascular diseases. By being able to deal with these characteristics, intranasal light therapy is a viable proposition to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases because of its ability to improve blood viscosity.
Cardiovascular diseases include coronary heart disease (heart attacks), cerebrovascular disease, raised blood pressure (hypertension), peripheral artery disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease and heart failure.
Poor blood viscosity, RBC aggregation and poor rheology either independently or collectively, are linked to cardiovascular diseases.1 Neumann et al claim that, “Plasma viscosity and erythrocyte aggregation were more predictive of myocardial infarction (heart attack) than age, male gender, fibrinogen concentration, abnormal ECG readings, or coronary score.”2 Another study confirms that high blood viscosity has been associated with cardiovascular related diseases such as stroke, heart attacks and deep vein thrombosis.3 These are in addition to relevant genetic variants that are risk factors for heart diseases.4
We can even quantify that the risk for heart attacks and strokes increases by 342% in men with high blood pressure based on high blood viscosity. Findings highlight the role of blood viscosity in impairing microcirculation and that a “vicious cycle” may exist in which impaired microcirculation maintains, or even amplifies, an initial increase in blood pressure that could lead to cardiovascular problems.5
Other studies also support the understanding that plasma and blood viscosity, hematocrit and white cell count each remain significantly associated with incident coronary heart diseases.7
Not all studies are lockstep in showing positive link between blood properties and cardiovascular diseases. One study was found to show that there was no connection between blood’s mechanical properties and heart disease, although it calls for more research.8
But what are the mechanisms involved in high blood viscosity affecting cardiovascular diseases?
The mechanisms of blood viscosity effects on the risk for cardiovascular diseases
Blood has non Newtonian fluid behavior. It does not behave in a linear fashion. Once it gets moving and builds momentum, it moves fast. Unlike water, which is Newtonian, blood moves sluggishly at low speeds and is more liquid at fast speeds. When the heart is resting between beats (diastole) it becomes more viscous and then when the heart forces blood out (systole) blood becomes less viscous. Concentration of RBCs (hematocrit) and RBC aggregation are two major determinants of blood viscosity.
Blood viscosity is important because high blood viscosity creates low shear stress. This means that in between heart beats the blood thickens and swirls around, causing eddies and turbulence. Turbulent blood flow progressively damages the cells that line the arteries. As an analogy, eddies and back currents in rivers form sandbars. Like sandbars, plaque tends to deposit most heavily in the low shear regions of the arteries. When the plaque builds up, blood flow is further impeded, leading to more turbulence and more plaque deposition. When the plaque deposition reaches a critical stage, it becomes a major cause of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke.
Excessive mass of RBCs can damage to the inner lining of the blood vessel as they constantly bump against the surface. This damage eventually leads to a plaque formation in the form of a callus. Like the callus that is formed in response to friction on the skin, it is formed to protect the artery wall in the short term at the expense of long term function. It also becomes a gathering point for the build up of further plaque.
High blood viscosity is also like a pressure wave with a high peak. This contributes to injurious pulsatile blood flow which damages the lining of the blood vessel, also contributing to the formation of plaque.
Based on the above, it is clear that reduced blood viscosity should be the aim for most people. Not only will that help reduce cardiovascular risk, it comes with other benefits that include even preventing dementia and other diseases and disorders.8
Hypertension is more specifically addressed on a separate page.
The Impact of the MedicLights Device
Based on evidence, the MedicLights Portable Light Therapy is found to be able reduce blood viscosity. It is a viable proposition as a preventive instrument for cardiovascular diseases.
1. D Justo, N Mashav, Y Arbel, M Kinori, A Steinvil, M Swartzon, B Molat, A Halkin, A Finkelstein, R Heruti, S Banai., “Increased erythrocyte aggregation in men with coronary artery disease and erectile dysfunction.“,International Journal of Impotence Research, 2009 Feb 26.
2. F J Neumann, H A Katus, E Hoberg, P Roebruck, M Braun, H M Haupt, H Tillmanns, and W Kübler,” Increased plasma viscosity and erythrocyte aggregation: indicators of an unfavourable clinical outcome in patients with unstable angina pectoris.” British Heart Journal, 1991 December; 66(6), pp 425–430.
3. G Lowe, A Rumley, J Norrie, I Ford, J Shepherd, S Cobbe, P Macfarlane, “Blood Rheology, Cardiovascular Risk Factors, and Cardiovascular Disease: The West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study”, Schattauer Verlag, Stuttgart, Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis 2000; 84: pp 553–8
4. Press release, “Researchers discover new genetic variants associated with increased risk of srtroke”, Eureka Alert, 15th April 2009 : http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-04/nhla-rdn041309.php.
5. G Ciuffetti, G Schillaci, R Lombardini, M Pirro, G Vaudo, E Mannarino, “Prognostic Impact of Low-Shear Whole Blood Viscosity in Hypertensive Men”, European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2005:35(2), pp 93-98.
6. G Lowe, A Rumley, J Norrie, I Ford, J Shepherd, S Cobbe, P Macfarlane, “Blood Rheology, Cardiovascular Risk Factors, and Cardiovascular Disease: The West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study”, Schattauer Verlag, Stuttgart, Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 2000; 84: pp 553–8.
7. “Is blood like your waistline – the thinner the better?”, Harvard University Health Newsletter, December 2005 Update: https://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update1205a.shtml.
8. T A Dorman, K Kensey, Y Cho, “Benefits of reducing whole blood viscosity for patients with angina and dementia symptoms’, Alternative Therapies, (2008) 14 (4), pp 48-51.
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