When it comes to our cardiovascular health, many of us don’t have a high awareness of the prevalence and risks of cardiovascular disease – we tend not to focus on the problems that we can’t see. According to recent surveys, most of us aren’t aware, for example, that blood clots, aka thrombosis, are responsible for one-in-four deaths in Canada each year.
The primary cause of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis, which happens when fatty plaques build up on the walls of an artery and eventually block it. Eventually, these plaques can rupture, and the resultant blood clot can deprive vital tissues – the heart, brain, or peripheral arteries – of vital oxygen. Blood clots, therefore, lead to our country’s top cardiovascular killers of heart attack, stroke and venous thromboembolism. Signs of blood clots are chest pain, light-headedness, being out of breath, leg tenderness and leg swelling.
Risk Factors for Blood Clots
Although some risk factors for cardiovascular disease are beyond our control (age, gender and family history), many of them are preventable, including smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and poor nutrition. A healthy diet can help lower these risk factors when combined with exercise and heart-healthy living habits. We are excited about one natural substance in particular, however, that has been clinically shown to break up abnormal blood clots and normalize blood flow, significantly reducing the risk factors of thrombosis, and that substance is nattokinase.
What is It?
Nattokinase is an enzyme produced during the fermentation of a traditional Japanese condiment called natto. Natto is derived from boiled soybeans that have been fermented with a type of probiotic bacteria (Bacillus subtilis.) Although it’s been extensively studied in Asia, only relatively recently has this powerful enzyme been studied for its clot-dissolving properties in North America.
How Does Nattokinase Work?
To understand how nattokinase helps to stop clots, we need to understand what a clot is. The process of clotting is actually fundamental to our bodies. It repairs tears in blood vessels, skin and mucous membranes and helps to stop us from bleeding out in the event of an injury. The hemostatic system is what causes us to stop bleeding by introducing certain clotting factors including protein polymers called fibrin. When we no longer need them, our bodies break down the fibrin polymers that make up the clots in a process called fibrinolysis.
What’s excellent about nattokinase is that it not only degrades blood clots on its own but it also increases the body’s own enzymatic ability to break them down. Human trials indicate that nattokinase consumption has been shown to increase total fibrinolytic activity significantly, and decrease the time needed to complete the clot-dissolving cycle – by half. The authors of a recent research review indicated that “… nattokinase is a unique natural compound with several key cardiovascular benefits.” That’s pretty impressive for a condiment!
For those who are at risk due to genetic or lifestyle factors, or who have diets that are high in iron, supplementing with AOR’s Nattokinase may help to minimize the risk of abnormal or problematic blood clots by acting as a “blood thinner”, enhancing fibrinolysis and generally improving circulation and blood flow. This fantastic enzyme is derived from vegan-friendly, fermented soy, a whole food product that’s a natural choice for heart health.