Another downside of yolk- bad as smoking when it comes to atherosclerosis
What is atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis, often described as a hardening of the arteries, occurs when the normal lining of the arteries deteriorates, the walls of arteries thicken, and deposits of fat and plaque buildup, causing narrowing (or even blockage) of the arteries.
Why atherosclerosis happen?
Arteries contain what is called an endothelium, a thin layer of cells that keeps the artery smooth and allows blood to flow easily. Atherosclerosis starts when the endothelium becomes damaged, allowing LDL cholesterol to accumulate in the artery wall. The body sends macrophage white blood cells to clean up the cholesterol, but sometimes the cells get stuck there at the affected site. Over time this results in plaque being built up, consisting of bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and macrophage white blood cells.
The plaque clogs up the artery, disrupting the flow of blood around the body. This potentially causes blood clots that can result in life-threatening conditions such as heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. The condition can affect the entire artery tree, but mainly affects the larger high-pressure arteries.
What is the Difference between Arteriosclerosis and Atherosclerosis?
Arteriosclerosis is the stiffening or hardening of the artery walls.
Atherosclerosis is the narrowing of the artery because of plaque build-up.
All patients with atherosclerosis have arteriosclerosis, but those with arteriosclerosis might not necessarily have atherosclerosis. However, the two terms are frequently used with the same meaning.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Atherosclerosis?
A symptom is something the patient feels and describes, such as pain, while a sign can be detected by other people, such as a rash.
The first signs of atherosclerosis can begin to develop during adolescence, with streaks of white blood cells appearing on the artery wall. The symptoms of the disease depend on which arteries are affected:
Carotid Arteries - these arteries provide blood to the brain, when the blood supply is limited patients can suffer stroke and may experience:
Coronary Arteries - these arteries provide blood to the heart, when the blood supply to the heart is limited it can cause angina and heart attack, symptoms include:
Renal Arteries- these supply blood to the kidneys; if the blood supply becomes limited, there is a serious risk of developing chronic kidney disease, and the patient may experience:
Loss of appetite
Swelling of the hands and feet
Peripheral arterial disease - the arteries to the limbs, usually the legs, are blocked. The most common symptom is leg pain, either in one or both legs, usually in the calves, thighs or hips. The pain may be described as one of heaviness, cramp, or dullness in the leg muscles. Other symptoms may include:
Hair loss on legs or feet
Male impotence (erectile dysfunction)
Numbness in the legs
The color of the skin on the legs change
The toenails get thicker
Weakness in the legs
What are the Causes of Atherosclerosis?
The condition is caused by macrophage white blood cells and fat that accumulates in arteries - the white blood cells are originally sent by the body's immune system to clean up LDL cholesterol pockets. When they stick to an artery they secrete a molecule called netrin-1, this stops normal migration of the macrophages out of the arteries. As a result, what you have left is a mixture of clumped.
Those who are at risk of developing atherosclerosis should be tested, as the symptoms don't show until cardiovascular disease develops. A diagnosis will be based on the medical history of a patient, test results and a physical exam.
Blood tests - these measure how much sugar, fat and protein there is in your blood. If there are high levels of fat and sugar it can be an indicator that you're at risk of developing the condition.
The doctor will listen to the arteries using a stethoscope to see if there is an unusual "whooshing" sound reflecting turbulence of flow - called a bruit. If a bruit is heard then it can mean there is plaque obstructing blood flow.
There may also be a very weak pulse below the area of the artery that has narrowed. Sometimes there is no detectable pulse.
An affected limb may have abnormally low blood pressure
There may be signs of an aneurysm (pulsating bulge) behind the patient's knee or in their abdomen
Where blood flow is restricted, wounds may not heal properly
Ultrasound - an ultrasound scanner is able to create a picture of the inside of your body using sound waves. It can check your blood pressure at distinct parts of the body; changes in pressure indicate where arteries may have obstruction of blood flow.
Computed tomography (CT) scan - A CT scan uses X-ray images to create detailed pictures of the inside parts of the body. It can be used to find arteries that are hardened and narrowed.
Prevention of Atherosclerosis
The best way to prevent atherosclerosis is to eliminate any risk factors you might have. The best way to do this is by living a healthy lifestyle.
Diet- Try to avoid saturated fats, they increase your levels of bad cholesterol. The following foods are high in unsaturated fats and can help keep bad cholesterol levels down:
Exercise- exercise will improve your fitness level and lower your blood pressure. If you are overweight then exercise can help you lose weight through activities such as walking, swimming, and cycling. To find out if you are overweight, click here.
Smoking- this is one of the major risk factors for atherosclerosis, it also raises your blood pressure. If you are a smoker you should quit as soon as possible and arrange a meeting with your doctor about ways you can give up and manage the withdrawal symptoms.
What is egg yolk?
The egg yolk is the yellow part of the egg that is surrounded by white or clear material. When an egg is fertilized, the developing chick uses the egg yolk as a food source, and it’s an excellent one because of its nutritional content. This superior nutrition has long been recognized by humans as a primary reason to eat eggs. However in modern times, the higher cholesterol and fat content of egg yolks may make some people avoid them and eat the egg white only.
The nutritional components of the egg yolk are striking. In chicken eggs, egg yolks contain half the egg’s protein amounts, and each yolk has about 60 calories. They offer excellent levels of vitamins A, D, and E. The downside of yolks is their cholesterol content, which is about 200 mg. Since it’s recommended that people get no more than 300 mg. of cholesterol a day, two eggs easily exceeds cholesterol limits. For people who have high cholesterol levels and must lower intake, eating egg yolks is usually not recommended.
Many ignore these guidelines and use eggs to make a variety of foods. These include simply cooking the eggs in different ways. Sunny side up eggs take advantage of the look of the egg yolk because it stays intact as the egg cooks. Hard-boiling eggs also results in a solid yolk in the center of the egg. Other times, people mix the yolk and white of the egg to create things like scrambled eggs, omelets, quiches and frittatas.
New Research- Why Egg yolk consumption almost as bad as smoking when it comes to atherosclerosis
Newly published research led by Dr. David Spence of Western University, Canada, shows that eating egg yolks accelerates atherosclerosis in a manner similar to smoking cigarettes. Surveying more than 1200 patients, Dr. Spence found regular consumption of egg yolks is about two-thirds as bad as smoking when it comes to increased build-up of carotid plaque, a risk factor for stroke and heart attack. The research is published online in the journal Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis, also called coronary artery disease, is a disorder of the arteries where plaques, aggravated by cholesterol, form on the inner arterial wall. Plaque rupture is the usual cause of most heart attacks and many strokes. The study looked at data from 1231 men and women, with a mean age of 61.5, who were patients attending vascular prevention clinics at London Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital. Ultrasound was used to establish a measurement of total plaque area and questionnaires were filled out regarding their lifestyle and medications including pack-years of smoking (number of packs per day of cigarettes times the number of years), and the number of egg yolks consumed per week times the number of years consumed (egg yolk-years).
The researchers found carotid plaque area increased linearly with age after age 40, but increased exponentially with pack-years of smoking and egg yolk-years. In other words, compared to age, both tobacco smoking and egg yolk consumption accelerate atherosclerosis. The study also found those eating three or more yolks a week had significantly more plaque area than those who ate two or fewer yolks per week. The mantra ‘eggs can be part of a healthy diet for healthy people’ has confused the issue. It has been known for a long time that a high cholesterol intake increases the risk of cardiovascular events, and egg yolks have a very high cholesterol content. In diabetics, an egg a day increases coronary risk by two to five-fold,” says Dr. Spence, a Professor of Neurology at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and the Director of its Stroke Prevention and Atherosclerosis Research Centre (SPARC) at the Robarts Research Institute. “What we have shown is that with aging, plaque builds up gradually in the arteries of Canadians, and egg yolks make it build up faster – about two-thirds as much as smoking. In the long haul, egg yolks are not okay for most Canadians.
Dr. Spence adds the effect of egg yolk consumption over time on increasing the amount of plaque in the arteries was independent of sex, cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking, body mass index and diabetes. And while he says more research should be done to take in possible confounders such as exercise and waist circumference, he stresses that regular consumption of egg yolk should be avoided by persons at risk of cardiovascular disease.