A medical condition known as vascular endothelial dysfunction can precipitate potentially serious health issues, including heart disease. This condition is more likely to occur once you get older, but there are precautions you can take to help avoid it.
Endothelium’s Systemic Function
Endothelium cells surround the lungs, heart and blood vessels inside the human body. These structures secrete chemicals that play a vital role in helping the blood vessels contract properly, as well as execute other pertinent internal functions, such as blood circulation and clotting.
Vascular Endothelial Dysfunction
This health malady can precipitate numerous medical problems, such as the hardening of arteries, decreased systemic blood circulation, heart attacks, strokes and an increased risk of developing internal bleeding. In many instances, the disorder is caused by underlying health issues, like high blood pressure and diabetes.
How Aging May Exacerbate the Problem
Scientific research has shown that, as individuals grow older, their blood vessels tend to grow weaker. Such circumstances alone could significantly increase someone’s risk of developing heart and other circulatory disorders.
That said, there is a burgeoning belief in the scientific community that the declining performance of endothelium could be among the major contributing factors to this problem. Studies conducted in recent times suggest this might occur because aging endothelium releases diminished concentrations of a nitrous oxide-based enzyme that both strengthens and increases the elasticity of blood vessels. The strength and elasticity of blood vessels are paramount to the structures’ ability to remain immune to damage that could lead to the development of blood clots (a potential precursor to heart attacks and strokes), in addition to the blood-circulating capabilities of these vital passageways.
The Importance of Endothelium-Function Testing
Diminished endothelial function might be difficult to detect without proper medical testing. Physical manifestations of the disorder (such as arterial damage) might only be found after an individual sustains a major medical event like a heart attack, stroke, a blood clot or significant internal bleeding. Therefore, diagnostic testing is critical.
If a physician suspects that a patient might be stricken with malfunctioning endothelium, the health professional may confirm those suspicions by performing diagnostic examinations such as the following:
- The Injection of Specific Drugs: Substances such as adenosine and acetylcholine precipitate blood vessel dilation. During this process, a health care professional can measure the passageways’ strength and elasticity.
- Ultrasound: This procedure enables doctors to utilize sound waves to measure vital functions, such as blood circulation.
- Pressure Pulsation: A patient’s blood pressure and circulation are measured utilizing a mechanical device.
- Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV): During this process, medical professionals gauge the circulation between a patient’s carotid arteries (major blood vessels in the neck) and the individual’s femoral artery (significant blood passageway in the thigh region) to detect if any damage exists.
How Can People Reduce Their Risk?
The endothelium might experience improved function through the consumption of a healthy diet, receiving an adequate amount of exercise, shedding any excess body fat and controlling precipitating illnesses, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.