The heart health/immune balance story keeps growing. A while back I wrote about inflammation and heart health. My post was based on a some new thoughts shared by a leading heart doctor. He basically said throw everything we’ve been taught about heart disease….cholesterol and fat…out the window. The key to heart health is controlling chronic inflammation. Inflammation of arterial walls (thickening)–due to immune cells attacking the long-term assault on arteries by plaque, smoking, sugary calories, etc.–is what drives heart disease. Of course, if one would adjust diet and exercise to reduce or eliminate these factors, inflammation would likely dissipate as well. But sometimes inflammation continues, the result of an overactive, unbalanced immune system.
The Wall Street Journal reports this week that new efforts to create anti-inflammation therapies are under way. “If you could find a way to dramatically reduce the incidence of heart attacks by blocking inflammation, that would change the practice of medicine,” says on researcher in the story.
Another recent report discusses efforts to develop a vaccine that could suppress inflammation by regulating inflammation-inducing immune cells called cytokines. “Inflammation’s cause appears to be a normal protein that the body’s immune system reacts to as if it were a foreign substance. Such immune-provoking substances are called antigens. Theoretically, it should be possible to make a vaccine that desensitizes the body to this antigen, much as is done now for allergies,” the story states.
Blocking inflammation. Hmmmm. Sounds more like making sure immune response is balanced. Do we need drugs for that?