Research Suggests New Contributor to Heart Disease

Medical professionals have long known that the buildup of plaque in arteries can cause them to narrow and harden, potentially leading to a whole host of health problems—including heart attack, heart disease and stroke. While high blood pressure and artery stiffness are often associated with plaque buildup, new research from engineers at Washington University in St. Louis shows they are not the direct causes.

The team suggests a new culprit: fragmentation of elastic fibers within the arterial wall. The findings, recently published online in the journal Atherosclerosis, could change the scope of heart disease detection and treatment for millions of Americans.

“Our surprising results suggest that treating patients for hypertension and arterial stiffness may have no effect on plaque buildup because we are not treating the underlying defect of elastic fiber fragmentation,” said Jessica Wagenseil, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science in the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

Wagenseil’s lab used two different groups of mice in the study. Some were genetically predisposed to hypertension and reduced aortic compliance, or increased artery stiffness. The other mice were not genetically predisposed to the heart conditions. All of the mice were fed a Western (high-fat) diet for 16 weeks… Read More>>

Source: Medical Xpress

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