Scientists at the Michigan State University, United States say that the cholesterol crystals in the arteries and in the heart are a sure sign of an imminent heart attack or stroke. The danger signals sent by the cells affected by the cholesterol crystals can cause inflammation and hardening of the walls of the arteries. These cholesterol crystals are formed by calcium, fat and other substances. The formation of cholesterol crystals may begin during the early stage of heart diseases.
The scientists have found that the hardened cholesterol crystals in the arteries (and even in the heart) of over 89 percent of the patients of the emergency department. They can break the plaque formed in the arteries and can reach the heart.
The scientists say that the size of the cholesterol crystals can increase when it converts into a solid (crystal) form from a liquid form (similar to the increase in the volume in the formation of the ice from the water). The cholesterol crystals formed in the bloodstream can tear and damage the artery wall.
The disruption of the plaque in the arteries can lead to the formation of clots and can cause a heart attack. Apart from causing physical damage to the artery walls, these cholesterol crystals can activate a biomarker called NLRP3 and produce Interleukin-1 (IL-1). Interleukin-1 causes inflammation and can worsen the condition of the coronary arteries.
The scientists say that the damage to the heart can be lowered by treating and dissolving the cholesterol crystals in the arteries and in the heart by developing new treatments. The cholesterol levels in the body can be reduced with foods such as chia seeds, wheat bran, fenugreek seeds, oats and walnuts. An earlier study shows a regular physical exercise, proper treatment and a healthy diet can lower the risk of the formation of cholesterol crystals in the arteries.
The leader of the study was Dr. George S. Abela, MD, MS, a professor of Medicine, Michigan State University. The study was published on November 15, 2017, in the American Journal of Cardiology. Title of the article was "Frequency of Cholesterol Crystals in Culprit Coronary Artery Aspirate during Acute Myocardial Infarction and Their Relation to Inflammation and Myocardial Injury."
The carotid artery disease is a type of cardiovascular disease caused when the carotid artery, which supplies the blood to the brain was blocked or narrowed due to the formation of the plaque. Between 20 and 30 percent of hospitalizations due to stroke may fall under the category of the carotid artery disease.
The carotid artery disease is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. The main risk factors associated with the carotid artery disease are.
Generally, carotid artery disease will be discovered when the patient suffers a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a stroke. A blockage in the carotid artery disease can also be detected by observing the neck with a stethoscope.
The blockage in an artery and its severity can be diagnosed by using the ultrasound, CT angiograms or MRA scan (MR Angiography or Magnetic Resonance Angiogram). The carotid angioplasty, carotid endarterectomy or stenting procedures are used for the treatment of carotid artery disease.
Transient ischemic attack: It is also called as a mini-stroke. The non-functioning of a part of the brain, retinal or spinal cord is due to the temporary (one minute on average) loss of blood flow but without the death of the tissue (infarction) is called Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA).
The temporary loss of blood is caused due to the arterial plaque formed in the smaller arteries of the brain. The affected individual may experience a temporary loss of hearing/smell/blindness, mental confusion, slurred speech (dysarthria) or aphasia (a communication disorder).
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Published by Jammi Vasista, Chennai, India.