Why Cholesterol Is Such a Killer

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

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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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