Endothelial Dysfunction

The other "ED" (endothelial dysfunction) is nothing to be shy about.

By Jack Challem

What It Is

Just as keeping your muscles toned improves your fitness and reduces your risk of heart disease, so does keeping your blood vessels toned.

Blood Vessels

Healthy blood vessels flex and assist the heart in moving blood through the body. This remarkable ability comes from a thin layer of cells, called endothelial cells, which line the inner walls of your arteries and veins.

When blood vessels lose their ability to flex, they stiffen. Doctors call this problem endothelial dysfunction (pronounced en-doe-THEE-lee-uhl dis-FUNK-shin).

The term may be a mouthful, and you may have never heard of it, but the danger is real: Endothelial dysfunction (ED, which is also the acronym for erectile dysfunction) is a major risk factor for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, one of the prime consequences of type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, most doctors don't test endothelial function. It's a complicated process, usually done in university research environments. Doctors can, however, order a blood test that measures tissue plasminogen activator (t-pa), which is an indirect measure of blood vessel tone. And if your blood vessel tone needs improving, it seems that choosing the right foods can make a big difference.


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Last Modified Date: July 01, 2013

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