Cardio-Vascular Health and CO2

cardioIt may be useful to begin to rethink our ideas about ‘matters of the heart’. Our capillaries comprise a length of about 40,000 km. Moving a viscous fluid over that distance by a small ‘pump’ that produces 2.5 watts of power is quite a stretch. There is no where enough force applied for the task. A more accurate assessment may be that the blood pumps the heart. The momentum of the blood increases as it moves through the veins back to the heart. Here, the heart is acting more as a ‘dam’ to hold back and collect the onrushing blood in the chambers until there is enough pressure to release the valves. It is not so much that the heart ‘contracts’, but that it collapses when the blood rushes out.

Leonardo DaVinci made a transparent model of a ox heart from a wax mold using blown glass. Through this model he pumped a mixture of water and grass seeds and noted that it exhibited vortex like flows of the mixture as it passed through the heart, leading DaVinci to speculate that it was in fact the vortical properties that moved the blood. A vortex has the affect of speeding up the flow of a liquid. Retired US Army Chief of Research and Development, Ralph Marinellei has stated that “the momentum in the blood is that of a self-propelled organ­ism, with its organic form being the vortex”.

When the heart becomes reduced to a simple pumping mechanism it follows that blood pressure will become a critical parameter for determining the efficacy of the pumping apparatus. The CDC currently estimates that 1 in 3 US adults have high blood pressure. And with 25 million Americans now on blood pressure meds there is still a lot of upside potential for the sale of hypertensive drugs on the market.

The leading cardiologists who authored the book The New Living Heart, state that in dealing with hypertonic disease there are no scientifically grounded methods for defining a ‘normal’ blood pressure reading for a particular individual. The authors also mention that, “an excessive degree of arteriole contraction is thought to be one of the important causes of high blood pressure.”

Hypertonia is defined as excessive tension of the smooth muscles including the blood vessels. And although hypertonic disease is characterized by atherosclerotic changes in large arteries, typical of patients with hypertonic disease, the increase in blood pressure is not caused by plaque deposits but rather by changes in the small arteries and arterioles that are not subject to fatty deposits. The increase in pressure is brought about in the micro-vessels through a spasm or excessive tension in the smooth muscle tissues.

It is well established both in medical textbooks and in hundreds of citations on Pub Med that CO2 acts as a natural vascular dilator keeping their constriction in check. Carbon dioxide is one of the products of the oxidation of glucose and is continually produced in a healthy metabolism. Problems with maintaining adequate CO2 levels can begin with a slight change of the rate of breathing that sets into motion a pattern of undetected hyperventilation that ‘washes’ CO2 from the lungs rapidly. Any type of stress either physical or emotional that cannot be adequately discharged will cause a slight increase in the rate of breathing. You can try a simple experiment to verify this for yourself. Sit in a chair and begin to hyperventilate (rapid inhale/exhale) for several minutes and note that you will soon begin to feel light headed. Hyperventilation results in rapid decrease of CO2 and induces micro vessel constriction in the brain inhibiting the flow of blood through the arterioles in the brain. Stress induced hyperventilation, while not as drastic as self induced acute hyperventilation will have the same affects of vascular constriction throughout the body resulting in an overall condition of hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) and lack of blood flow and nutrient delivery to the cells.

The constrictive mechanism as a response to hyperventilation also applies to micro-vessels in the heart and circulatory system. Less available oxygen to the heart causes muscle weakness, arrhythmia, hypotonia, tachycardia. Over-breathing leads to constriction of the micro vessels and hypertension due to the loss of carbon dioxide as CO2 serves to maintain blood vessel dilation in a similar manner as nitric oxide.

Another corresponding problem with excessive CO2 loss is the inability of the red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to release that oxygen to the peripheral cells again resulting in a overall condition of hypoxia. This discovery was first made in the late 1800′s by the Russian doctor Verigo and confirmed 10 years later by the German doctor Bohr and now known as the Verigo-Bohr effect. The blood gas mixture must contain adequate CO2 to allow the oxygen to split off from the red cells. The blood is normally fully saturated (98%) with oxygen when at rest, so simply measuring blood oxygen levels is a poor indicator of efficiency, unless you are assessing someone with cardio-pulmonary disease or other functional disorder. Further problems can arise with the red cells due to loss of CO2 and the corresponding anti-oxidant protection that it provides resulting in excessive free radical damage to the red cells and subsequent loss of deformability that induces blood coagulation and oxygen starvation.

Beginning in the 1990′s, Russian studies examined the CO2 content in arterial blood among different age groups, noting that the elderly exhibited CO2 levels in the range of 3.6% to 4.5% reflecting issues with hypertonia caused illness. Healthy subjects maintained CO2 levels in the 6% to 6.5% range. Also in healthy subjects, the respiratory volume per minute was about 3 to 5 liters, whereas in the elderly it was more then doubled at 8 to 12 liters per minute, reflecting a ongoing condition of hyperventilation. Continued application over a 6 to 12 month period using Breath Balance with elderly subjects showed a normalization of both respiratory volume and blood gas composition allowing oxygen starved cells to function more efficiently.

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