Cardiovascular risk increases with thick blood

Medicinal leeches have long been a primary defense therapy against heart disease because of its two-pronged approach.

by Pavel Gershkovich — 

Is your blood as thick and sticky as ketchup, or is it more like grape juice? Thick and sticky blood is not a good thing, and the modern American diet makes this condition commonplace. Medical books call it “blood viscosity,” and it is a significant risk factor for heart disease and high blood pressure.

When the heart muscle contracts, it sends blood moving, with some turbulence, through the arteries. Thick and sticky red blood cells are abrasive, and they rough up the inside of the artery walls. Nature dispatches cholesterol like a salve to patch the rough spots and plaque forms, which narrows the arteries.

Medicinal leeches have long been a primary defense therapy against heart disease because of its two-pronged approach. First, there is blood loss, which prompts the body to make lots of new blood cells. Newer red blood cells are more slippery and flexible — they can bend and fold themselves to make their way through the slender passages of the capillaries. Second, leeches secrete some potent healing substances in their saliva. Particularly useful is the enzyme hirudin, which works like a holistic antibiotic and blood thinner in the human bloodstream.

The many bio-active substances that leeches secrete are able to reduce blood viscosity, while simultaneously dilating the blood vessels, accelerating lymph flow, inhibiting platelet aggregation, reducing infection, and exerting a local analgesic and anesthetic effect.

Leeches have been in the medical toolkit for centuries. The treatments for heart disease, hypertension, varicose veins and hemorrhoids are well-established traditional indications for leech therapy. Leeches have FDA approval as a medical device and are often used in operating rooms during reconstructive surgery, where surgeons rely on them to create microcirculation.

As people better understand that drugs used to inhibit the body’s ability to make cholesterol do not stop the forces that create heart disease, leech therapy will be seen as one of the strongest defensive moves that an at-risk person can take.


Pavel Gershkovich, C.H.P., C.R.P., is the director of Arizona Leech Therapy and Salt Chalet Arizona at 5011 N. Granite Reef Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85250., and 480-621-6041.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2012.

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