- Inflammation affects the body in a number of ways, some we recognize physically and others not so much. For example, a cut on the skin can get red and inflammed. But there is a low grade, chronic inflammation that also occurs that increases as we age.
- Many factors influence this inflammation, including genetics, lifestyle, and environmental agents. This can cause premature aging and disorders that accompany it, such as diabetes.
- A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal did suggest a link between elevated levels of Interleukin-6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory cytokine that when elevated, appears to drive other inflammatory marker up, such as CRP (C-reactive protein and fibrinogen).
- IL-6 elevation appears to play a role in aging, causing people to age poorly when levels are elevated.
- Successful aging is considered to have occured when an individual has good cardiovascular function ( no heart attacks) , good respiratory and musculoskeletal functioning (no emphysema/arthritis), and good mental well-being. In other words, there is an abscense of disability such as diabetes and severe arthritis or heart failure.
- High levels of inflammation in the body are linked to cognitive decline (dementia and poor memory)
- General body inflammation is involved in coronary artery disease, obesity, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, allergic conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Inflammation can result in insulin resistance that then promotes obesity. Fat releases pro-inflammatory compounds that then worsens insulin-resistance. This results in a positive feedback cycle, making everything much worse.
- Inflammatory markers being looked int incude tumopr necrosis factor (TNF), IL-6, C-reactive protein, prostaglandins, and leukotrienes. Elevations of these indicators reflects other conditions in the body, such as worsening arthritis.
- In the Jupiter study, it was found that people with a nromal LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol would benefit from treatment with a statin to reduce the LDL even further if their CRP was elevated. The CRP elevation reflected an increased risk of heart attacks in these people despite normal or low cholesterol already. The statin (rosuvastatin), decreased the CRP and LDL cholesterol and ppears to decrease the risk of coronary events. Again, the elevated CRP reflects the inflammation in the coronary system, and this inflammation was improved by treatment with the statin.
- Smoking worsens inflammation in the body and increases the risk of stroke and heart attacks. It promotes inflammation in the coronary arteries.
- Obesity and high blood pressure also promote inflammation.
It is felt that IL-6 may be the driver of the inflammatory process, especially as increased levels of IL-6 (>2ng/L) increases mortality over three years. High IL-6 levels are associated with poor aging and increased risk of cardivascular events and death.
What to do:
- Eat a heart healthy diet including fatty fish, fruits, and vegetables. Include wine, tea, and chocolate, which have anti-inflammatory effects). The Mediterranean diet reduces inflammation.
- Avoid saturated fats, trans-fats, and refined sugar, which are pro-inflammatory.
- Get aerobic exercise. Being sedentary increases inflammation and pain.
- Lose weight – obesity increases inflammation.
- Quit smoking.
- Take low dose aspirin if you had a prior heart attack.
- Take a statin if your docstor indicates a need. It helps inflammation and cholesterol.
- Don’t drink to excess.
Sleep at least 8 hours a day. AVoid stress, anxiety, depression through better coping mechanisms. Social isolation increases chronic inflammation.
Other inflammatory markers:
Lipoprotein-associated Phospholipase A2) measures inflammation in the arteries –reference range: 81–259 ng/mL – below 200 is consistent with reduced risk of heart attack or stoke.