HOME HYGIENELIBRARY CATALOG CHAPTER 12
BLOOD VISCOSITY AS A FACTOR
IN ALL METABOLIC DISEASES
It's said that blood is thicker than water (sometimes more so than it oughta!)
Blood is a wonderful and complex substance containing many chemicalcompounds to perform many functions. It constantly changes and adapts to meet thebody's requirements. Healthy blood varies in viscosity as it flows normally and becomesmuch "thinner" by the time it reaches the capillaries. It can even changeviscosity locally at a given point in order to pass through a constriction.
As described in Chapter 8, the viscosity of blood is quicklyincreased by stress, and continuous stress will maintain the condition. Severelyaffecting blood viscosity too is a diet containing fat, cholesterol, refined carbohydrates,coffee, alcohol and excessive amounts of animal protein. Removal of these foods fromthe diet enables the blood to clear in several days, but because most people consumethese foods constantly, their blood is always polluted and viscous.
Since 1852 when Dr A. Coccius published data on microscope observationsof agglutinated blood in living human patients, many other studies have been madebut unfortunately their significance has not been appreciated. Dr Leopold Dintenfasof Sydney Hospital has studied blood viscosity for over 20 years and is just beginningto convince the medical profession that high blood viscosity is a disease factor.Dr Dintenfas is the Director of Hemorhology and Biorheology Department, Universityof Sydney. He is the author of Blood Micro-rheology Viscosity Factors in BloodFlow, Ischemia and Thrombosis (1971 Butterworth Press), Rheology of Bloodin Diagnostic and Preventive Medicine, (1976 Butterworth Press), Hyperactivityand Hypertension and Blood Viscosity in Heart Disease and Cancer (1981 PergamonPress) plus numerous medical papers published throughout the world.
High blood viscosity invariably accompanies degenerative diseases.The factors that effect blood viscosity are: plasma viscosity, aggregation of redcells, internal viscosity of red cells, hemoconcentration, aggregation of platelets,and concentration of white cells.
Quoting Dr Dintenfas:
"The high viscosity syndrome can contain one, two, or moreof these elements. Capillary occlusion, stasis hypoxia, acidosis, necrosis and infarctionare inevitable, although not necessarily irreversible steps in this process.
"It would be worthwhile to note that osteoarthritis andrheumatoid arthritis are associated with an elevation of plasma viscosity (Houstonet al 1949--Gasen et al 1970) and an elevation of the degree of aggregation of redcells (Laine and Zilliacus 1950, Redioch et al 1970). High blood viscosity alwaysleads to a slow down of circulation and to reduced oxygenation of tissues.
"Wardle in 1967 suggested that it is the increased bloodviscosity in the small digital arteries which is responsible for the common symptomof malignancy. Red cell aggregation, platelet aggregation and hypercoagulabilitycan contribute to this syndrome. Crenated red cells, raised fibrinogen, increasedplatelet stickiness, are all a common feature of malignancy."
The full implication of high blood viscosity in cancer is describedin Chapter 20 and in arthritis, MS etc, in Chapter 21.
On the subject of blood as a disease indicator, here is a quotationfrom the book Hunza Land by Dr Allen E. Bank from Nebraska, USA (1960):
"One of my major reasons for wanting to visit Hunza wasto find out whether their robust health would be corroborated by evidence of superiorcirculatory function as revealed by a study of the arteries and veins within theireyes, also to learn if their eyesight was superior, in general to that of our population.
"Although optometrists do not practise medicine, theirknowledge of pathology enables them to refer patients with abnormalities to propermedical authority. In my opinion, comparison of the diameters of the arteries andveins of the eye indicates whether the circulatory system is 'in balance' or 'outof balance'--whether a person's blood pressure is normal or abnormal. Determinationof the color relationship between arteries and veins is also indicative of an individual'scondition. For example, if the color ratio between an artery and corresponding veinis 1:1, a person is healthy (i.e. The artery is rich red and the vein has a colorintensity of equal degree). If the color ratio is 1:2 (the vein is two shades darkerthan the artery), health is somewhat below normal. The average American--includingmany children falls into this category. A ratio of 1:3 indicates illness; at approachingdeath the ratio is 1:4.
"Interesting evidence of this theory is supplied by studiesmade by Dr Melvin Knisely of the University of Chicago. Dr Knisely made an exhaustivestudy of the color changes in the circulatory systems of dying frogs, monkeys andhumans, and was able to predict the progression of diseases. As death approached,the toxin-laden corpuscles were unable to pass through the capillaries. Their progresswas stopped and their oxygen content discharged. As a sticky substance in the bloodcovered the dying cells, they formed into clusters which the doctor called 'bloodsludge'--a condition common in 50 diseases. Gradually, the blood flowed more slowly,and the tissues died of asphyxia. 'Understanding sludge', Dr Knisely says, 'willmake possible a new attack on a whole panorama of human diseases'. Photomicrographsof the circulatory systems of frogs, monkeys and humans substantiated the theory.An account of this remarkable discovery appeared in Life magazine, May 31,1948.
"The examinations I made in Hunza of the eyes of peoplein all age groups indicated that the Hunzakuts have healthy circulatory systems.Their artery-to-vein circumference ratios were, in most cases, perfect or near perfect,and the color ratios could generally be classified at 1:1.
"In all respects the Hunzakuts' eyes were notable. I foundthem unusually clear; there were few signs of astigmatism; even the oldest men hadexcellent far and near vision--an indication that their crystalline lenses had retainedelasticity. Most of our crystalline lenses lose their elasticity in our early forties,and we require bifocal lenses for the remainder of our lives.
"Here, I believe, is confirmation of the fact that bodilyhealth can be 'read' by a study of the eyes, and that general health promotes eyehealth. For our own benefit and that of our children, we should resolve that, startingnow, we will make the necessary adjustments in our diet to promote the radiant healthto which we are all entitled."
Blood Sedimenatation Rate (ESR)*
*Red cells are called erythrocytes.
There are many components of blood chemistry which can be checkedby complex tests.
A simple test of the blood sedimentation rate is one which indicatesthe degree of red cell aggregation. Again quoting from Blood, the Paramount Humour,by Dr Earle Hackett:
"The sedimentation test consists simply in watching a columnof blood, which has been prevented from clotting, standing in a vertical tube. Thered cells settle down to the bottom. The faster they settle, the sicker the patient(with a few exceptions, such as pregnancy).
"Absurd? No--more or less true.
"The explanation is that normal red cells are coin-shapedflakes of jelly and are slightly heavier than the plasma in which they are suspended.When blood stands still they will very gently settle to the lowest part of the container.They settle slowly because each individual one falls like a light disc on syrup,and there is a maximum resistance to its fall because of its large surface area.
"When red cells stick together they do so like piles ofcoins or dinner plates.
"These adhering collections offer less surface resistancewhen falling through plasma, and therefore in the test they settle more quickly.Rapid sedimentation accompanies all diseases which involve tissues or the entry offoreign or abnormal proteins into the blood. This will include a wide variety ofchronic inflammations, toxic infections, operations, fractures, blockages of bloodvessels, and disorders of the cell system which normally manufactures the plasmaproteins."
Platelet Adhesiveness Index (PAT)
Another factor which affects blood viscosity and by which thecondition of the blood can be assessed is the stickiness of the blood platelets.
Dr Paul Owren, Hematologist at the Oslo University Hospital,devised a method of measuring platelet stickiness by means of observing the percentageof platelets which adhered to glass beads. The percentage is the index number.
Healthy young women have an average index number of 20, whereascardiovascular-prone males have an index of between 50 and 70.
The effect of trauma on blood viscosity is reflected in thefact that after a major wound, all people, regardless of their starting PAI, haveit increased to 90 for a period of 15 days.
Anti-coagutants have no effect on the PAI but reductions havebeen observed after the intake of Vitamin E, flaxseed oil, garlic, codliver oil,lecithin and aspirin. Alcohol, although it elevated triglycerides, had the effectof temporarily reducing platelet aggregation.
Dr Mark Patterson, hematologist at the National Heart Hospital,London, in a paper titled Study of Action of Flaxseed Oil, Flax-phosphatides andTocopherals on Platelet Adhesion (July 1975) said that these substances, evenwhen used in pastry., reduced the PAI by an average 20%. He said that deep vein thrombosiswas absent after operations, and that protection was afforded to coronary heart patients.In an experimental group of 18, the PAI reduced from 59 to 29 and no deaths occurredcompared to six deaths in the control group of eighteen.
Although aspirin lowered the PAI, it was an irritant and didnot prevent deep vein thrombosis.
Recent research has revealed how dietary fats, in the amountconsumed in the Western diet, cause platelet stickiness. Hormone-like substancescalled prostaglandins, derived from fatty acids in the blood, are used by the cellsin the blood vessel walls to produce prostacyclin, and by the platelets to producethromboxane. Prostacyclin controls the muscular contraction of the vessels and presentsplatelets adhering to the vessel walls. Thromboxane determines the stickiness ofthe platelets and tends to cause the vessels to contract.
Prostaglandins differ in type depending on the type of fattyacids available. If fatty acids either from animal protein, dairy foods, eggs, orfrom vegetable sources such as nuts, are in abundance, then Prostaglandin H2 (PGH2)is formed and the resultant thomboxane (TXA2) makes the platelets sticky. If bloodfats are normal (which they never are on the Western diet) of if they are abundantfrom fish sources, then PGH3 and TXA3 are formed , and the platelets will be normal.(This is the effect of garlic etc.) The fatty acid in fish is called eicosapentaenoicacid or EPA.
Dr William Connor, professor of medicine, University of OregonClinical Nutrition Section, found that on a 10-day diet of salmon, patients' elevatedcholesterol levels fell by 20% and triglycerides by 40-67%. These results are notentirely surprising because it has often been observed, but not before explained,that fishing communities in various parts of the world suffer a lower rate of heartattacks than elsewhere.
Because EPA has the effect of reducing platelet stickiness,towering elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, and reducing blood viscosity, itis being researched for medical use* and is now available in extract form. This iswell and good, but it should be first of all realized that better results are obtainablesimply by eliminating both animal fats and concentrated vegetable fats from the diet.
*Medical authorities have stated low fat diets to be ineffectual in the treatment of disease, although they now recommend that fat should be limited to 30% of the diet. This recommendation is indeed ineffectual. The reduction of fat in the diet to 25% of total calories is helpful but achieves only a 10% reduction of elevated blood pressure, indicating the blood is still sticky. Total fat should be reduced below 10%. It has been proven that hypertension (high blood pressure) is directly related to high blood viscosity and that the removal of fat from the diet effectively reduces blood pressure in a few days whether there is salt in the diet or not. Drinking beer, and to a lesser extent other alcohol, increases blood fats and blood pressure. Three pints of light ale per day are sufficient to cause big increases in blood pressure over a three-day period, the increase in viscosity being sufficient to present risk of heart attacks in coronary prone patients. This information was reported recently by Dr John Potter and Dr Gareth Beevers at Birmingham Hospital, England.
It should also be noted that even on a high fat diet, athletesin training have low blood viscosity with no red cell or platelet stickiness, andconsequently lower blood pressure, simply because in a physically fit body the metabolismof fat is more efficient.
That the effect of high EPA intake can be harmful and preventblood coagulation altogether, is shown by the fact that primitive Eskimos whose dietconsists mainly of fish, although not prone to heart attacks or cancer, are veryprone to hemorrhaging, young and old alike, and often suffer nose bleeding lastingseveral days which sometimes reduces them to a state of collapse.
Improvement of circulation by the injection of snake venom serumhas been demonstrated in Europe and the USA in the treatment of various complaintssuch as angina, claudication, arthritis and MS. The research shows that the markedrelief of symptoms of these complaints is achieved by way of lowered blood viscosity.A recent television documentary on this topic showed graphically how a sample oftreated blood flowed faster than untreated blood when both samples were releasedsimultaneously in an inclined dish.
In Chapter 20 it is described how the incidence of both primaryand secondary cancer is dramatically reduced among patients with circulatory problemswho for long periods have been on anti-coagulant drugs to prevent blood clotting.
Thus it is abundantly clear that the state of health of an individualis directly related, not only to the nutrients contained in the bloodstream, butinversely to the harmful substances present and the degree of blood viscosity.
Other disease indicators
It is axiomatic that lipotoxemia and high blood viscosity musteventuate in disease and premature death. The state of health always correlates inverselywith the readings of blood pressure, pulse-rate, se dimentation rate, platelet adhesionindex and blood viscosity. High readings of any of these related parameters is anindication of disease whether symptoms are evident or not.
Summary on blood viscosity
This chapter can he summarized in the brief statements of threeeminent medical researchers--
Dr Melvin H. Knisely, University of Chicago:
"Thus far, completely unagglutinated blood has been foundonly in strictly healthy animals and men. No severely ill person has yet been seenwho did not have intravascular agglutination of the blood and visibly pathologicvessel walls."
Dr Leopold Dintenfas, University of Sydney:
"Studies of athletes, normal individuals and patients withcardiac and renal diseases show a progression from a low blood viscosity with a highflow velocity among athletes to an elevated viscosity and low flow velocity amongstpatients. Furthermore, my colleagues and I have found time and again an elevationof blood viscosity among apparently healthy individuals who later displayed obvioussymptoms of heart disease and cancer."
Dr Meyer Friedman, San Francisco:
"A meal rich either in animal or vegetable fat can leadto sludging of the blood and blocked capillaries for most of a 24 hour period, andone fatty meal follows another. At this writing (1965), 1 know of no single phenomenonthat has been so consistently neglected, in the study of heart disease, as this one.Later we may rue this inexcusable oversight."