Blood viscosity is the only biological parameter that has been correlated with all of the major cardiovascular risk factors including male gender, age, smoking, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and LDL cholesterol. It is inversely correlated with HDL cholesterol. However, blood viscosity is a statistically independent — and in certain ways, much stronger — biomarker for cardiovascular disease. Blood viscosity predicts heart attacks, strokes and mortality from heart disease independent of these other risk factors.
The role that blood viscosity plays in cardiovascular health is highly significant. Thicker, stickier blood is more abrasive and damages arterial walls. Thus, it not only affects how hard the heart has to work to circulate the blood, but also contributes to inflammation of the intimal lining of the vessels. It contributes to endothelial dysfunction, growth of atherosclerotic lesions, and plaque rupture. In addition, blood viscosity directly modulates peripheral vascular resistance. Impaired blood flow due to hyperviscosity leads to decreased oxygen and nutrients delivered to the tissues, affecting critical areas such as the brain, eyes, and kidneys.
Do you have symptoms of high blood viscosity?
- Personal or family history of heart disease, stroke, hypertension or diabetes
- Signs of decreasing cognitive function
- Sensorineural hearing loss
- Ocular disorders such as macular degeneration or glaucoma
- Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation or chronic joint pain
- Raynaud’s syndrome
- Women with a history of taking oral contraceptives, especially those designed to decrease the frequency of menstrual periods
- Women who have had a hysterectomy, have irregular periods or are menopausal
- Women with a history of pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia, especially those who are currently pregnant
- Cirrhosis of the liver