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Did you know that you can effectively prevent arterial stiffness and promote better cardiovascular health by simply adhering to the guidelines of the Mediterranean diet?

Yes, you can!

I am pretty sure that you are interested to learn more about this so please keep reading the rest of this article. For all you know, this may be the only thing you need to live a longer and healthier life.

Medical experts agree that arterial stiffness (also known as arteriosclerosis or atherosclerosis) is responsible for most cardiovascular events. In fact, it is considered as the leading precursor of stroke and myocardial infarction, two of the leading causes of death in most high-income and middle-income nations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular disease may even become the leading cause of mortality in developing nations.

Understanding Arterial Stiffness

Arterial stiffness refers to the condition wherein the walls of the arteries harden, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. If this condition is not addressed properly, the additional pressure will lead to a condition known as left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) or the thickening of the myocardial muscle of the left ventricle of the heart. Left untreated, this condition may eventually cause left ventricular failure.

What causes arterial stiffness?

Arterial stiffness is mainly caused by wrong food choices. Eating foods that are high in fat can eventually cause plaque to accumulate within the walls of your arteries. When this happens, your artery walls will harden and your heart will have a difficult time pumping blood through your body. Clots may even form along the walls of your artery and this may make it harder for your blood to pass through it.

Arterial stiffness may also result as a complication of several medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.  Heredity, alcohol use, smoking and lack of exercise can likewise lead to this condition.

What are the possible complications of arterial stiffness?

Here are some of the complications that may arise as a result of the condition:

  • Necrosis or tissue death. Arterial stiffness hinders the supply of blood and nutrients to the tissues and may cause damage and tissue death.
  • Pulmonary embolism. Arterial stiffness may cause pulmonary embolism if a clot migrates to an artery in your lungs. This condition can be life-threatening and will require emergency treatment.
  • Aneurysm. In some cases, arterial plaque build-up is triggered by the weakening of the walls of the arteries and may result in the formation of aneurysm (an abnormal widening of a portion of the artery). Ruptured aneurysms can be life-threatening so it is best to avoid them while you can.

Arterial Stiffness and the Mediterranean Diet

Recognizing the serious complications that may arise from the condition, preventing arterial stiffness may very well serve you right. How do you do it? It’s really quite simple. You can start by changing the way you eat.

According to a report published in the July 2012 online issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine, people who adhered to the Mediterranean diet were found to have less stiffer carotid arteries as compared to those who didn’t. These observations were obtained from the results of the Amsterdam Growth and Health Longitudinal study involving 373 apparently healthy adults whose levels of adherence to the Mediterranean diet were measured several times during adolescence (at age 13) and adulthood (at age 36).

So, start eating the Mediterranean way (the earlier, the better), have a regular exercise routine and avoid unhealthy habits such as excessive drinking and smoking. Follow these suggestions and you can be sure that you’ll enjoy better heart health for years to come.

Avoid arterial stiffness at all costs,

Ray Baker