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Why Cholesterol Is Such a Killer

It crystallizes, then breaks on artery walls, new research reveals

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

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MONDAY, Sept. 12, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- New research is illuminating the details of cholesterol's dangerous effect on human health.

Researchers at Michigan State University found that cholesterol build-up lying on artery walls can crystallize into a solid, expand and then burst, sending material shooting into the bloodstream.

That chain of events kick-starts the body's natural clotting process, essentially shutting down the artery, explained lead researcher George Abela, a professor in the university's department of medicine and chief of the department's cardiology section.

Abela compared the cholesterol crystallization to putting a plastic bottle of water into a freezer. The frozen water expands, pushing its way out of the bottle -- or breaking the bottle altogether.

"This really drives the point home how important cholesterol control can be," Abela said in a prepared statement.

The findings appear in the September issue of Clinical Cardiology.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about cholesterol.

SOURCE: Michigan State University, news release, Aug. 29, 2005


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