Research finds big cause of blood vessel plaque buildup

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Heart diseases, especially coronary artery disease, are major health concerns worldwide, with 25% of deaths in the United States caused by this condition. Finding the causes and developing effective treatments is crucial.

Researchers at the University of Virginia Health have made an important discovery that could lead to better treatments for coronary artery disease.

Mete Civelek, a key researcher from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, explains that the smooth muscle cells lining our blood vessels play a crucial role in coronary artery disease.

These cells usually protect us by forming caps over plaque in the arteries to prevent strokes. However, sometimes these cells can also contribute to plaque buildup, worsening the disease. The big question is: why does this happen?

To explore this, Noah Perry, a doctoral student working with Civelek, studied smooth muscle cells from heart transplant donors.

He aimed to identify the genes responsible for the cells’ behavior. His analysis pointed to problems related to how these cells use nitrogen and glycogen, which is the body’s way of storing sugar.

Interestingly, a specific sugar called mannose was identified as a potential contributor or even a trigger for these problems. However, the research team believes more in-depth studies are needed to confirm this connection.

Understanding how these smooth muscle cells change from protective to harmful could provide crucial points for intervention.

If doctors can identify what causes these cells to become harmful, they could develop ways to prevent this shift. This discovery could lead to new methods for treating and preventing coronary artery disease.

Civelek emphasizes the global impact of coronary artery disease and the urgent need for more treatment options. While there are effective treatments like cholesterol-lowering drugs and blood pressure control, additional targets are needed to further reduce the disease’s impact.

The research team, including Perry, Diana Albarracin, Redouane Aherrahrou, and Civelek, is dedicated to exploring this avenue, hoping their findings will eventually bring relief to millions affected by coronary artery disease.

For those interested in health, it’s worth noting that studies have shown vitamin D can help reduce inflammation, and vitamin K might lower heart disease risk by a third.

Additionally, recent research highlights foods that can improve brain health and cooking methods that might increase the risk of blindness.

The study was published in the journal Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine.

If you care about stroke, please read studies that diets high in flavonoids could help reduce stroke risk, and MIND diet could slow down cognitive decline after stroke.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce the risk of dementia, and tea and coffee may help lower your risk of stroke, dementia.

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