A Vaccine to Prevent Heart Attacks? Or a New Frankendrug?April 10, 2012
Swedish researchers have developed a new vaccine that they believe can drastically reduce the fat in arteries, thereby reducing or preventing heart attacks. The vaccine, which would be delivered by injection or through a nasal spray, could be available within five years.
It’s the peptide vaccine CVX-210 (the CVX stands for CardioVax, the company that is developing the drug with the researchers). The team identified three peptides—a chain of twenty amino acids—which reduced development of atherosclerosis in mice by 60 to 70%. The vaccine involves just one of these three amino acid segments.
Head researcher Jan Nilsson announced at a cardiovascular biology conference that they are trying to change the way the immune system responds to plaque build-up in the arteries, reduce inflammation, and suppress plaque formation. He believes the antibody therapy is “likely to be expensive, so you could probably only afford to give it to high-risk populations rather than everyone.” The rest, presumably, would simply take statin drugs all their life!
But let’s look for a moment at what the vaccine actually does.
In the 1990s, scientists found antibodies against oxidized LDL cholesterol inside artery plaques. This gave rise to the concept that cardiovascular disease might be an autoimmune disease, where the immune system was attacking oxidized LDL. The Swedish researchers found that by using an adjuvant—that is, an agent in the vaccine designed to increase the immune response—they were able to dampen the inflammation and reduce the fatty plaque build-up.
But if inflammation and plaque build-up is indeed part of an autoimmune disease, creating a vaccine that increases immune response seems to have a huge potential for things to go awry! Usually in patients who have an autoimmune disorder, the immune system can’t tell the difference between healthy body tissue and antigens. When this happens, the immune response can destroy normal, healthy body tissues.
Another thing to remember is that inflammation is the body’s way of coping with invaders and perceived threats. The build-up of fat and plaque in the arteries is the body’s process of scarring and healing. As Dr. Joseph A. Mercola points out, when inflammation occurs, your blood vessels constrict to keep you from bleeding to death; your blood becomes thicker so it can clot; your immune system sends cells and chemicals to fight viruses, bacteria, and other infectious agents; and cells multiply to repair the damage. If your arteries are damaged, a very similar process occurs inside of your body, but with slightly different terminology: when the “scar” is in your artery, they call it “plaque.”
In order to replace your damaged cells, the body needs cholesterol; no cell can form without it. If you have damaged cells that need to be replaced, your liver will be notified to make more cholesterol and release it into your bloodstream. This is a deliberate process that takes place in order for your body to produce new, healthy cells.
Chronic inflammation—and chronic plaque formation—along with the thickening of your blood and constricting of your blood vessels that normally occur during the inflammatory process, can indeed increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks. But the answer is not to take drugs that artificially lower your cell-healing cholesterol, nor vaccines that artificially stimulate the immune response against arterial fats. Researcher Nilsson stated—and the media has been repeating it ever since—that this can be considered “truly groundbreaking” since it is “the first time that the underlying cause of heart disease has been targeted.” No! Getting a quick-fix vaccination so you don’t have to change your lifestyle is just the opposite of “treating the underlying cause”!
Real treatment of the underlying causes is through a holistic approach to health. To cure inflammation, and prevent it in the first place, you must modify your diet (perhaps significantly), exercise properly, and supplement wisely. The best thing about this is that you don’t have to wait five years for it—you can start right away! Many experts recommend:
- Getting 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week with an emphasis on interval aerobic training as well as muscle-preserving moves
- Avoiding deep fried foods, foods high in trans fat, refined foods, processed foods, and too much starchy food
- Normalizing your body’s omega 6 to omega 3 fat ratio
- Reducing stress
- Getting plenty of vitamin K, and especially K2—it is a powerful inhibitor of calcification of arteries and cartilage
Be sure to see your own healthcare professional for a program that is tailored to your personal needs.
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