atherosclerosis prevention?

My mother, not even 50 years old, got diagnosed a fusiform aneurysm, presumably caused by severe atherosclerosis. She’s OK, but it was then and only then she chose to tell me that my grandmother had a stent at 45, my uncle had a bypass at 48, my aunt did too at not-yet-50.

FYI – all people in question are on the low side of normal weight and exercise well. What’s even more weird, they’ve got super low blood pressure – 90/50. WTF?

I’m pissed off – I was planning on retiring at 40, not croaking at 40. I’ve got a physical on Thursday and will be exploring all options then.

I’ve been researching the Internet for materials, but the advice on atherosclerosis seem to be after the diagnosis when the damage is done, and not focused on preventing it in the first place.

Cutting to the chase:

  1. Is there a peer-reviewed way of preventing hereditary atherosclerosis? Do diet, exercise, all that shit work? Or are people just destined to go down the path of Jim Fixx?
  2. What peer-reviewed diets, under clinical and scientific supervision, have been shown to halt progression of atherosclerosis?
  3. What kind of tests and specialists would help work with one to halt progress of atherosclerosis?

This isn’t a request for medical help, only asking what is the current state in peer research. I have my own list of true medical questions and will only act on what my doctor tells me to, I just want to be as prepared as possible.

Niacin - immediate release, NOT the no-flush formulas.
Google Niacin and you’ll see it not only prevents but is supposed to reverse existing plaque buildup. Plenty of documented evidence for the last 40 years. Of course, there are possible side effects, so check with the dr. The tingling and flushing is no problem if u take 2000 mg (2 grams) rite before going to bed. With your family history, the dr. would have to be crazy to not let you try it. They’ll do blood tests to check your liver and glucose, but most people do fine. It’s one of those rare substances that’s cheap, effective, and non-serious side effects.

Twinlab sells 1000-mg capsules, and when I googled, I saw their potency was verified.

The single best thing you can possibly do right now is to become vegan, or to eat a vegan diet which makes an exception for small amounts of oily cold-water fish. Pomegranate extract might help too, but research is still preliminary at this time. Other than that, utilize whatever prescription drugs you and your physician decide on, and don’t forget to take your aspirin. In addition, practice scrupulous oral hygiene, and visit your dentist twice a year for full scaling. Right now, that’s about as state-of-the-art as it gets. I’ll see if I can put some cites together for you tonight.

A bit of a nitpick - by and large, aneurysms are not caused by atherosclerosis. In the case of abdominal aneurysms, any atherosclerosis that’s present has developed after the aneurysm formed, i.e. atherosclerosis is an epiphenomenon. In terms of aneurysms in the brain, these are also rarely due to atherosclerosis. They are much more a consequence of hypertension or various genetic “lesions”.

Where was your mom’s aneurysm? I ask since the common form of aneurysm almost never occurs before age 60 and is about only 5 or 10 percent as common in women than men.

I would speculate that in a young woman with a documented aneurysm the problem is NOT atherosclerosis but may well be due to a defect in her body’s production and processing of collagen, a protein that is critical to normal blood vessel formation (and many, many other things).

The alleged aneurysm is on her neck, right at the carotid artery. Mom went to see the vascular specialist today. Turns out to be nothing. Her growth is her artery, and the initial doc felt “a growth” because she’s so thin. I have no idea how the doc who looked at her scans concluded it was a fusiform aneurysm.

Thanks all – had everything tested – it came out as normal, so the need for preventation isn’t quite as immediate as I felt in the OP. The other family members with problems always had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. So I inherited my mother’s low blood pressure, and father’s low cholesterol. (Phew!)

Doc had the following advice for preventation: niacin, no refined carbs, exercise everyday. Interestingly enough she said that recent research found that diet soda drinks cause high cholesterol.

Oh, I see.

That part of the carotid artery is called the carotid sinus although you’ll see it referred to as the carotid bulb from time to time.

As you now know, the carotid sinus is normally dilated (when compared to adjacent segments of the carotid artery). If a person is thin (i.e. doesn’t have a lot of fat to mask it), the pulsation at the carotid sinus can be quite prominent. This phenomenon is exaggerated if the person is nervous, drinks lots of coffee, has a fever or anemia, is hyperthyroid, has a leaky aortic valve . . .

As an aside, if one “massages” the carotid sinus (NOT a good idea), the person getting the massage can faint. If both sides are massaged simultaneously, the heart can stop. So, again, don’t try this at home.

Oh, that makes a lot of sense! Gotcha. :slight_smile: