For the first time ever, a Michigan State University researcher has shown cholesterol crystals can disrupt plaque in a patient’s cardiovascular system, causing a heart attack or stroke.
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The findings by a team led by George Abela, chief of the cardiology division in MSU’s College of Human Medicine, could dramatically shift the way doctors and researchers approach cardiovascular attacks. Abela’s findings appear in the April issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.”Any time there is something completely new or unique in medical research, it is met with healthy skepticism,” said Abela, who has been working with cholesterol crystals since 2001. “But we have found something that can help dramatically change how we treat heart disease.”
What Abela and his team found is that as cholesterol builds up along the wall of an artery, it crystallizes from a liquid to a solid state and then expands.
“As the cholesterol crystallizes, two things can happen,” Abela said. “If it’s a big pool of cholesterol, it will expand, causing the ‘cap’ of the deposit to tear off in the arterial wall. Or the crystals, which are sharp, needle-like structures, poke their way through the cap covering the cholesterol deposit, like nails through wood.”