VOL. 5, No. 1/2, July 2009

P. C. Ho [2009] Med. Hypotheses Res. 5: 27‒35.

Cyclic Flow and Patterns of Cardiovascular Disease:
Dynamic Parallel with Natural Flow Systems

Paul C. Ho*

Division of Cardiology, Hawaii Region Kaiser Permanente, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Abstract.  The mammalian circulatory system has many parallel features with nature’s
flow systems like rivers. The cyclic blood flow due to arterial pulsatility is analogous to the
cyclic seasonal flooding of rivers due to the repetitive melting snow and dry seasons. Along
the banks of a “pulsating” river, sand bars and beaches have been noted to fluctuate in size
depending on the seasonal flows. These fluctuating sandy sediment deposits at the river
banks are comparable to the dynamic nature of calcific mineral deposits and atherosclerotic
plaque development in arteries. Experimental models of the cardiovascular system have
demonstrated a relationship between pulsatile flow phenomena and site-specific arterial
calcification and atherosclerosis. Analogous to physiologic studies, the controlled flooding
experiments at the Colorado River’s Glen Canyon Dam have shown correlations between the
magnitude, duration and frequency of cyclic floods and dynamic sand bar depositions along
specific sites along the river banks. Understanding the dynamic parallels between the
cardiovascular and the natural flow systems may help to gain insights into solutions for
challenges occurring in the respective fields.

* Correspondence: Dr. Paul C. Ho, Division of Cardiology, Hawaii Region Kaiser
Permanente, 3288 Moanalua Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96819, USA. Tel: 808-432-7238. Fax:
808-432-8385. E-mail: