Wait, not so fast…..
More and more scientists believe that cholesterol is the victim of mistaken identity. Yes, cholesterol is always found in the thick of things, but it’s presence doesn’t imply culpability.
Ambulances are typically found at the scene of serious accidents, but ambulances don’t cause accidents.
Hit and run accidents
For years, when experts have been called into review the “cholesterol” crash site, they have had to piece together what happened based on a careful analysis of the scene of the accident.
The debris from an accident, which more than likely happened years earlier, always includes…
- “Damaged” smooth muscle, which has formed fibrous scar tissue (neointima) comprising the blood vessel wall, infiltrated by macrophages.
- The infiltrating macrophages, which have gorged themselves on cholesterol, turning into foam cells…
- The fatty deposit, peppered with clumps of calcium, that bulges out, obstructing the flow of blood through the blood vessels.
The crash site is an atherosclerotic plaque.
Some plaques are more stable than others, but they are for the most part, the ticking time bomb behind cardiovascular disease.
Probing the crash site
Technology has allowed the crash site investigators to dig underneath the atheroscelortic plaque.
A new player has emerged….
Buried in the heart of the atherosclerotic plaque is a new type of cell, a multipotent vascular stem cell.
Researchers from the Glastone Institute suspect, these multipotent vascular stem cells might be the instigators of the process which is leading to artery hardening.
The vascular stem cell moves in
The team set out to explore the “damaged” smooth muscle cells a little further.
To do this, they created a very special type of mouse which had smooth muscle cells which glowed green under a microscope.
When the team peered down the microscope at cross sections of blood vessels from the very special mice, they were a little surprised to discover that not every cell lining the blood vessel glowed green.
10 % of the cells were the usual shade of pink.
Curious, they grew some of these cells in the laboratory. Besides NOT BEING GREEN, which meant that they were not “normal” smooth muscle cells, the cells were a little bit bigger, tended to spread a little more and were a little stringy.
Closer inspection revealed these cells were not behaving like ordinary cells, but acting like stem cells. Further tests showed that they were indeed stem cells – the cells could become smooth muscle cells, or nerve cells, or BONE cells or fat cells.
Not just a mouse thing
Finding something in a mouse – does not always mean the same thing is happening in humans.
So the team set out to look for these vascular stem cells in human carotid arteries. And, when they looked for them…. they found them, hiding deep inside atherosclerotic plaques.
Bones are designed to be HARD
Calcification (hardening) of the blood vessels, is a big part of the trouble in cardiovascular disease.
The inflexibility is what drives blood pressure sky high and creates the crisis, when a clot cannot squeeze its way through.
Cholesterol, the usual suspect, is actually waxy and flexible. Contrast this with bone cells, which are designed to be hard and brittle.
If bone cells are popping up inside damaged blood vessels, even if they’re there in low numbers, they are bound to stiffen things up !
Stem cells usually take it easy
Under normal circumstances – stem cells like to relax and take it easy. After all, they worked hard making your body, taking you from the size of a full stop to a fully functional human being.
The body keeps stem cells around for EMERGENCIES.
When there is profound amounts of damage, these special guys are called up to do their thing.
Cholesterol a (innocent) bystander
The world is obsessed with obliterating cholesterol, but despite bringing down cholesterol levels, sometimes to frighteningly low numbers – it really is marginally beneficial in protecting from heart disease and often causes NEW problems.
Cholesterol is not the problem. Damaged blood vessels are.
The secret to avoiding cardiovascular disease is to take care of those blood vessels. A good place to start, is to get the 7 Big Spoons™ sorted.
The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.
|Calcium supplements are building bones and breaking hearts||Make sure you have your “annual” check-up in the summer time||Should you feed a heart attack a high fat meal ?|
Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below