What Actually Causes Heart Disease

by Dr David Minkoff February 20, 2024 8 min read

What Actually Causes Heart Disease

Disclaimer: This article is purely informational and makes no claims as to treatment or cure by or from any supplement or program BodyHealth may offer. If you or someone you know has any heart condition, we recommend you see a doctor trained in functional medicine to help you locate the cause of the disease or condition and recommend a solution for it.

Cardiovascular Disease, or Heart Disease, is the number one cause of death not just in the US, but in the world.

And, despite spending more on medical treatment for this, per person, than any other country, the US has one of highest rates in the world, higher than most so-called developing countries that don’t have the same money to spend on medical treatment for it.

As of 2019, approximately 7,617 in 100,000 Americans had heart disease. And many more are on the path to it, with this number growing every year.

Compare that to the early 1900s when there was very little heart disease.

(This is actually a created problem, and we’ll get to that.)

But the saddest thing is that while it is, in most cases, preventable (even when we’ve already started on the path to it), the solutions provided only allow us to “manage it” or slow it to a degree. Not reverse or prevent it.

And they don’t even do that very well.

In the last article we covered what high blood pressure is and what causes it on a high level.

(And no, high blood pressure is not the same as heart disease, though they do connect, as you’ll see.)

In summary:

Our cells need oxygen to survive. We breathe in oxygen and from our lungs it is transferred into red blood cells in our blood. These then take the oxygen to our cells.

If our blood is thicker due to high levels of recently eaten processed sugar or floating triglycerides (body fat molecules), or if the passageways through our blood vessels have narrowed, then it’s harder for the blood to move the blood cells through the already naturally narrow passageways to our cells.

In this case, the heart increases pressure to push them through.

We feel this when we’re “out of breath.” That’s us reaching the point in physical activity where the cells need more oxygen, but our heart can’t get the oxygen-filled red blood cells to our cells fast enough.

It’s not us out of breath, it’s our cells.

So the heart beats more and raises the blood pressure to push it through faster.

It goes deeper than that, but that is the general concept. If you haven’t read that article yet, you should before continuing on here.

But now we’re coming back to heart disease.

We also already covered how consuming cholesterol isn’t the cause of heart disease.

Wonderful. But what is the cause?

If we want to lower our risk of heart disease, then we need to know the exact factors that do cause it so we can prevent them.

And it starts inside our blood vessels, at a very thin mucous lining that runs all along the inside walls of these blood vessels, protecting them from harm.


The inner lining of our blood vessels is one cell thick. It’s called the endothelium.

And the endothelium makes a mucous lining called the glycocalyx which coats the inner walls of the endothelium.

This mucous lining on the inner walls keeps blood flowing and keeps the blood vessel healthy.

While the heart moves the blood, this mucous lining makes it so things in the blood don’t stick to the walls of the blood vessels and so we don’t get blood clots.

This is what allows the blood to keep moving smoothly.

But this mucous is susceptible to various harmful factors: chemical toxins, heavy metals, toxins from bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites, and even high levels of sugar in the blood stream.

These things damage or destroy this protective mucous lining.

And that makes the inner cells of the wall of the blood vessel now accessible to these same toxins.

And that happening — this mucous lining being destroyed so that the cells underneath are now exposed — is the first step on the way to heart disease.

As an aside, a company recently made a camera that can photograph this mucous lining. They put it under the tongue and can see if and where the mucous lining has been disrupted and where the walls of the blood vessels are exposed.

As what is occurring there will be occurring throughout the body, we can get an idea of how bad it is or not.

Also, when I was a medical student, I worked six months with a researcher who was looking at blood vessels in the eye, and you could see this glycocalyx (mucous lining). And depending on how disrupted it was or not, you could predict future disease before you saw it anywhere else.

And you could predict who would get heart attacks or strokes because you could see their mucous lining was already visibly very damaged.

With this new camera we can do the same thing. We can see where and how damaged this mucous lining is, and then we can do something about.

Then we can check back in 3 months and look, is it healing? Because it can heal. And if it is, then we’re lowering the risk of heart disease.

But back to this blood vessel wall.


When this mucous lining is damaged, the cells of the inner wall of the blood vessel are now exposed.

And these same toxins and chemicals that caused this can now reach the cells of the inner wall. And they can damage them.

But they don’t just attack the exposed cells. They embed themselves there.

And, as they’ve penetrated the mucous, they can now get in under it, both harming the cells of the walls themselves, but also destroying more of the mucous lining, but from underneath it, causing more of the inner wall to be exposed.

This also causes inflammation, and immune cells come to that spot, trying to fix it. This stirs things up even more and, all combined, this causes a sore or a lesion to form.

This lesion then pushes out into the passageway of the blood vessel, taking up space and so narrowing that part of the passageway.

This may be microscopic at the beginning. But now we have a bump there, narrowing the passageway that blood must go through.

And if you remember from this article, many of our blood vessels are so narrow that the blood cells moving through them are actually larger than the passageway itself, and so already have to squish and elongate to pass through.

But now this bump has made it even more narrow. And they have a harder time passing through and so the heart has to increase blood pressure to push them through.

As I said, at first this may be microscopic. But if these toxins and bacteria and viruses, etc. exist in one area, then they exist throughout. As they’re carried by our blood.

So these exposed inner walls can start to occur, even if microscopic, throughout our body’s blood vessels.

But now these toxins have penetrated our network and gotten through. They’re in.

And as they get underneath the mucous lining through the exposed part, they attack from underneath and these openings become larger and larger over time, with more and more of the inner wall exposed at every point that has been penetrated.

(Don’t worry, this is a long process and it’s reversible, at least to a large degree.)

And this isn’t then just the chemical that originally broke through that gets in. Now any chemical or metal or bacteria can get in. And they do. And they can start to speed this process.

And so we get to the heart of the matter.


A significant portion of the blood vessels in our body are microscopic. They’re about 2-4 microns in width between the inner walls. And the blood cells carrying oxygen to them are about 6-8 microns in width.

So these blood cells already have to squish to get through the blood vessels and they need pressure from the heart to do this.

Add in a lesion that pushes out into this passageway, narrowing the passage, and it becomes even harder for the blood cells to get through.

Or even impossible, cutting off blood flow and oxygen to some part of our body leading to death of the cells in that part.

But that leads us to the heart. Because while the heart may contain very large blood vessels and itself be responsible for pumping blood through the body, it also needs oxygen and nutrients, and it gets these from microscopic blood vessels that feed it.

The same ones which can very easily become blocked when narrowed.

This can lead to the heart itself, or a part of it, not getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive.

Even more, these lesions can lead to blood clots.

Remember from above, this mucous lining allows the blood to move through the blood vessels by ensuring that nothing sticks to the walls and that blood clots aren’t formed.

Well, if it’s missing from an area, then blood clots can form. (Blood clots are triggered by inflammatory particles, like what is already there destroying the mucous lining.)

And if the area affected is in the tiny blood vessels that feed the heart, we have a real problem.

So we get narrowed arteries, which leads to more narrowed arteries, so less and less blood can get through and the heart raises pressure more and more to push it through (and this pressure itself can be so great that it helps increase the size of the open sores), and then finally a clot forms and now that blood vessel is blocked.

This is also where cholesterol comes in. There is an injury. Just as when you scrape your knee your body puts a protective bandage on it — a scab — so too does it put a bandage on this injury to the blood vessel. And that bandage is made from cholesterol.

But cholesterol is soft and can come off over time. So the body puts another, tougher bandage over this: calcium, which hardens the blood vessel and is much harder to get rid of.

But that’s another topic. And we’d rather just prevent that.

Back to this blocked blood vessel.

So now some small part of wherever this is occurring, in this case the heart muscle itself, is not getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs to not only operate, but to survive.

And when that happens, that heart muscle dies.

That’s a heart attack.

Unfortunately, the first sign we have that this is about to occur, is when it occurs.

And it’s not reversible.

So we should prevent it…


Okay. That’s a lot to take in, and we’ll cover more.

But I want to make sure you remember one thing: unless we’ve gotten to the point of actual heart attack — then it’s usually preventable. And the overall condition is reversible, at least to a large degree.

So what can we do?

We’ll cover more, but at a high level, the solution is first to prevent harmful toxins, bacteria and parasites from coming in, and lower our sugar intake, especially processed sugars, so that we’re not adding to the number of things that can penetrate this mucous lining.

Then to rid our body of the toxins, bacteria and parasites that are already in it, and address the weak points in our own detox pathways and digestive tract that should be preventing their entrance.

And finally to heal the mucous lining so that it again covers these points of exposed inner wall.

And while I lay that out in a sequence, when we address this we do all of this at the same time.

But we must do all of it:

Rid our body of toxins and prevent more from coming in to the best of our ability;

Rid our body of harmful bacteria, parasites and fungi, and repair the digestive tract that is allowing them in;

Come off the processed sugars that both feed these bacteria, fungi and parasites so they can continue their damage, and which also cause damage on their own;

And give our body what it needs to be able to heal the damage that has been done.

And we can do this.

Heart disease isn’t something that happens overnight.

We have time.

Alright. I hope this helps.

We’ll cover more in the next article before diving into what we can do to raise overall heart health and cardiovascular health.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.