Health Tip: Small Vessel Disease

olympia sports physicalSubmitted By: David Overton

Why do so many women with circulation or heart complaints go to the emergency room, their doctors or cardiologists, only to be told “tests are normal”? Why are the rates of heart disease rising in women? Are there differences between blood vessels and test results in women and men?

The answer is women more commonly develop small blood vessel disease or SVD.  The blood vessels are smaller and/or the small arteries and capillaries get damaged more in women while the larger arteries more commonly get damaged in men.  Most tests (ECG, treadmills, heart scans) were developed to diagnose large vessel problems in men.  Medical researchers are only now figuring out the differences and most clinicians still interpret women’s tests as if they were men.

With SVD, standard circulation and heart tests will often be normal or slightly abnormal, confusing other clinicians into telling the patient “everything is normal”.  However, if you do more accurate testing, such as Cardio Risk IMT carotid scans, you will often diagnose damage that is missed with the ECG, treadmill and heart scans.

SVD is not caused by cholesterol problems.  SVD is known as hyaline arteriosclerosis due to deposits of amyloids (starchy wax-like glucose proteins), colloids (glue-like proteins or starch particles) and hyaline products (albumin substances from amyloid degeneration).  All of this is made worse by high blood pressure.  SVD is also associated with insulin resistance which is known as pre-diabetes, diabetes, hypoglycemia or “blood sugar problems”.  Insulin resistance causes amyloid, colloid and hyaline products to deposit in capillaries, arteries and other organs in women and men years before large vessel damage occurs.  SVD is also associated with immune or infectious blood vessel damage, high levels of fibrinogen or fibrin, kidney damage and other treatable problems.  If the focus is cholesterol management, it doesn’t help SVD.

SVD is managed by testing for and managing insulin resistance, using cardiac and diabetic drugs as needed, testing for and managing immune or infectious damage, high fibrinogen or fibrin. We have found a number of helpful alternative treatments treat all this.

For example, at age 51 my CardioRisk IMT carotid scan showed damaged arteries equivalent a 58 year old.  I have insulin problems and made certain my glucose was normalized.  My cholesterols were basically normal. There were no indicated drugs, so I started a logical naturopathic program – which did not work.  Unfortunately, by age 52 my arteries progressed to the equivalent to a 62 year old.  That was significant vessel degeneration and I had to learn about and manage immune and infectious cardiovascular damage, kidney damage and high levels of fibrinogen – all of which I had. By age 53 a series of alternative treatments showed my carotid arteries reversed back to the equivalent of a 53 year old.  I’m happy to be managing or reversing my risks for strokes and heart disease.

If you have circulation or heart problems, find someone experienced in managing small vessel disease.


David Overton, PA-C works at Natural Medicines & Family Practice providing integrated conventional and alternative treatments under the supervision of Dr. Richard Faiola, MD, ABFM.



David Overton, PA-C

1315 Ruddell Rd. SE Lacey, WA

360-357-8054 website:

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