Chronic Inflammation And The Cardiovascular System – A Deadly Combination

2011-02-23 | |
Last updated: 2011-02-23

Lung Distress

Aside from the effects of blood clots on the lungs, inflammation also directly affects the health of the lungs. One very dangerous medical condition that results from serious lung inflammation is called adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The condition results from any number of causes including serious infection, severe trauma or severe burns. It can occur even without any direct injury to the lungs and simply results from excessive inflammation caused by these other health issues.

The condition is very dangerous because it can cause the lungs to fail outright. Even amongst those treated early, 60% will die from lung failure. In the US alone, more than twice as many people die from ARDS each year as die from breast cancer. Quite clearly, the immediate risks from inflammation are significant.

Inflamed Heart Tissues

While ARDS may be a health condition that many will not recognize, heart attacks are certainly something with which everyone is familiar. However, few people realize that one of problems of surviving a heart attack is the inflammation that follows the event. Researchers from the University of Iowa determined that the immune system, in its “confusion” following a heart attack, promotes the creation of proteins that would normally attack foreign invaders. However, in the aftermath of the damage from a heart attack, these proteins instead punch holes in injured heart cells only to compound the injury.


While much media attention has been given to the effects of inflammation on Atherosclerosis, the negative effects of inflamed tissues on the body itself are widespread. In particular, the cardiovascular system fares very poorly in the presence of inflammation. Whether it is the long term effects that increase the risks of premature death or the significant short term impacts of inflammation following injury, the cardiovascular system is very much at the mercy of the immune system’s brute force. This suggests that the key to saving lives with many of these conditions lies in understanding how the immune system goes off the rails.

Future articles will look at other effects of inflammation on the body as well as the causes of inflammation and ways within our control to reduce it.

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Category: Health Risks, Medical Research, Symptom Information

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