Taking Care of Your Glycocalyx to Prevent Heart Disease

June 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm

 

By Brian Miles, M.D.

‘Glycocalyx’ is a term that many are not familiar with. However, it is vitally important to keep your glycocalyx healthy to prevent cardiovascular disease.

The glycocalyx is a molecular structure lining our arteries which has a variety of functions. One of its functions is to serve as a slippery layer to prevent things such as oxidized LDL Cholesterol and white blood cells from sticking to the cells which line our arteries (endothelial cells). It is important to avoid sticky blood vessels so the glycocalyx acts like Teflon on a pan to make the blood vessels slippery. If the glycocalyx is disrupted, the endothelial cells may rise up like the singles on a roof and allow cholesterol plaque to develop.

As we age, the glycocalyx begins to wear down. This is accelerated by lack of exercise, smoking and a poor diet. A single high fat or high sugar meal can disrupt the glycocalyx. Fortunately, the glycocalyx has the ability to restore itself, but this takes up to eight hours under healthy circumstances. In most cases, the glycocalyx often gets repeatedly assaulted before it has time to repair.

Stay tuned for more on the glycocalyx and to learn ways to protect and restore its healthy function!


Categories: Clinical Corner, Dr. Miles' Blog.

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