Suggested Causes of Heart Disease — Index

Since coronary heart disease 'took off' in the 1920s, there have been many attempts to explain this sudden rise in a previously rare disease. The best known one is undoubtedly 'cholesterol'; but that is not the only possible explanation which has been suggested. Here are several of them. Most are related to diet,

High Cholesterol? This was the original hypothesis. It is losing ground now as other, more likely causes are hypothesised.

Oxidized LDL This idea comes from the suggestion that it is not cholesterol as such that is the problem, but only LDL when it is oxidized.

Dietary Saturated Fat The saturated fat hypothesis began in tandem with the cholesterol hypothesis. It's the main plank in the 'diet-heart' hypothesis, but how true is it.

Inflammation When a raised level of a protein called CRP was discovered in people who had heart attacks, it was hypothesized that it was the CRP which was the causative factor.

Infections Several bacteria and viruses have been shown to damage the linings of arteries. Is this the real cause of the atherosclerosis believed to lead to blocked arteries?

Our 'Healthy' Diet Many clinicians have remarked that heart disease seems to be worsened by a high carbohydrate intake. Is our 'healthy diet' to blame?

Blood Insulin Along with a high intake of carbohydrates, levels of insulin in the blood are also raised. This has been shown to damage the arteries.

Lack of sunshine It's noticeable that there is more heart disease the further one is from the equator. Is a lack of vitamin D, which the body makes from sunlight, to blame?

Lipoprotein (a) Not wanting to give up on cholesterol and LDL, it is now suggested that a variant of LDL called lipoprotein (a) may be causal.

Insufficient vitamin C Some scientists have suggested that atherosclerosis is a form of scurvy. So, should we be eating more vitamin C?

Homocysteine Homocysteine has also been found to be raised in the blood of patients with heart disease. Is homocysteine a causal factor, or a merely a marker for an insufficiency of B vitamins?

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Last updated: December 9, 2011