Previously it was thought that fatty deposits from the blood calcified vessels from the inside. The Hanoverian Professor Axel Haverich turns the common doctrine on its head and says: A deficiency supply to the outer wall is the trigger of arteriosclerosis. Inflammatory processes such as flu are the greatest danger.
- The cardiac surgeon develops a new theory for the development of atherosclerosis.
- Key message: Inflammation attacks vessels from the outside and leads to narrowing.
- The best prevention is, therefore, to quickly suppress inflammatory processes in the body.
Around 40 percent of all deaths are due to cardiovascular diseases. Arteriosclerosis, better known as arteriosclerosis, is one of the most common causes of heart attack and stroke. Narrowed vessels obstruct and block the blood flow and thus the supply of heart or brain.
The constriction occurs when blood lipids (cholesterol), tissue particles and lime are deposited on the inner wall of vessels. The development of arteriosclerosis is favoured by diets high in fat and cholesterol and lack of exercise. This is the previous explanation.
“I only expect resistance”
The Director of the Clinic for Cardiac, Thoracic, Transplantation and Vascular Surgery of the Hannover Medical School turns this common doctrine on its head in an article in the renowned magazine “Circulation”. Cardiac surgeon Axel Haverich is convinced that atherosclerosis does not start from the inside of the vessels, but from the outer wall. The deposits (plaques) do not come from the bloodstream but are remnants of dead cells of the vessel wall. ” Cholesterol plays a crucial role in atherosclerosis only in humans who suffer from congenital lipid metabolism,” explains Axel Haverich.
While many physicians no longer see the role of cholesterol as significant, Axel Haverich is pretty much alone in his theory that micro vessels on the arterial outer wall trigger atherosclerosis. “I remember a doctor in Sweden and a doctor in the US, who were thinking in the same direction, but I expect only resistance in the coming weeks.”
Atherosclerosis depends on micro vessels on the arterial outer wall
The physician had noticed in thousands of cardiac, vascular and bypass surgeries that even patients with highly clogged arteries had vascular sections that were completely clean and well-drained. “Many cardiac surgeons make use of this known fact for bypass surgery,” writes Axel Haverich.
These intact areas are thin-walled, surrounded by muscles and free of so-called Vasa Vasorum (VV). These are small vessels on the outer wall of arteries that supply them with oxygen and nutrients. Professor Haverich explains the sticking point: “Only vessels with a thicker wall than 0.5 millimetre need the small vessels to supply, they then sprout deep into the vessel wall, thinner vessels do not need it, they are stabilized, moved and moved by muscles the constriction protected. ”
First clogged mini-vessels, then the artery
However, the small supply vessels close quickly by inflammatory reactions and by fat particles. As a result of undersupply, the cells of the middle arterial wall die. Axel Haverich: “It comes to a veritable infarction of the cell wall.” The immune system breaks down the cells including the fat remnants. And this is how the plaques form, thickening the arterial wall and closing the vessel. “Arteriosclerosis should be seen more as a disease of the micro vessels. The arteries are affected only later, “notes the cardiologist.
Inflammation triggers the arteriosclerosis cascade
For Axel Haverich, this explanation also fits the observation of other scientists that the heart attack rate after flu epidemics or high particulate matter pollution (inflammation in the body!) Significantly increases.
He also sees his theory confirmed by very old medical discoveries. Thus, in 1924, a doctor in St. Petersburg had diagnosed arteriosclerotic changes in 300 children, all of whom had died of an infectious disease.
Most important prevention: Avoid inflammation
For patients, the new atherosclerosis theory initially means little for the therapy, but much for the prevention. There is currently no way to reverse the vascular calcification. “However, we are now starting experimental laboratory studies on the regeneration of vessels using growth factors,” explains the physician. Balloon catheters, stents and bypasses are currently the main methods used by cardiologists and cardiac surgeons.
“Among the usual measures of prevention – healthy nutrition, adequate sleep and a lot of exercise – it is also essential to prevent infections as possible and to treat all inflammations in the body,” advises Axel Haverich. This includes:
- the regular flu shot
- the rehabilitation of chronic inflammations, e.g. of
- stomach lining
The breakdown of abdominal fat also contributes to reducing the risk of arteriosclerosis: It produces a lot of inflammatory substances.