Scientists from the Michigan State University, United States have discovered that cholesterol crystals in the arteries and in the heart are a sure sign (and a catalyst) for an imminent heart attack and stroke. Inflammation and hardening of arteries occur due to the danger signals sent by the cells affected by the cholesterol crystals. These cholesterol crystals are formed by calcium, fat and other substances. Their formation starts during the early stages of the development of heart diseases.
Scientists found this hardened cholesterol crystals in the arteries (and even in the heart) of over 89 percent of the emergency cases. They even break the plaque formed in the arteries and reaches the heart. Scientists say while cholesterol converts into solid or crystal stage from a liquid stage, their size increases (phenomena similar to volume expansion during water to ice conversion). The cholesterol crystals formed in the bloodstream tears and damages artery walls. Disruption of plaque and formation of clots leads to cardiac or heart attacks when the cholesterol crystals expand. Apart from causing physical damage to the artery walls, these cholesterol crystals activate NLRP3 biomarker to produce Interleukin-1 beta molecules. Interleukin-1 causes inflammation and worsens the condition of the coronary arteries.
Scientists say damage to the heart can be reduced by treating and dissolving these cholesterol crystals in the arteries and heart by developing new medications. Body cholesterol levels can be reduced with foods such as Chia seeds, wheat bran, fenugreek seeds, oats and walnuts. Earlier studies show regular physical exercise, proper medication and healthy diet reduces the risk of the formation of cholesterol crystals in the arteries.
The leader of the study was Dr. George S. Abela, MD, MS, Professor of Medicine, Michigan State University. The study findings were 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 carotid artery, which supplies blood to the brain will be blocked or narrowed due to plaque formation. Between 20 and 30 percent of the strokes fall under the category of carotid artery disease. The carotid artery disease is a 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 transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a stroke. The carotid artery blockage or disease can also be detected by observing neck with a stethoscope. The blockage position and severity can be diagnosed by using ultrasound, CT angiograms or MRA scan (MR Angiography or Magnetic Resonance Angiogram). Medical procedures used to treat carotid artery disease are carotid angioplasty or carotid endarterectomy and stenting.
Transient ischemic attack : It is also called as a mini-stroke. Non-functioning of a part of the brain, retinal or spinal cord caused due to temporary (one-minute average duration) loss of blood flow but without tissue death (infarction) is called Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA). Temporary loss of blood flow occurs due to arterial plaque formed in the minor arteries of the brain. The affected individual may experience temporary loss of hearing/smell/blindness, mental confusion, slurred speech (dysarthria) or aphasia (a communication disorder). TIA symptoms will disappear within 24 hours. TIA may be single or multiple events and they are warning signs of a stroke.
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Published by Jammi Vasista, Chennai, India.