kurimed clinic Kussmaul-Riempp | tel. +49 7233 6870780 | e-mail | contact | imprint | data privacy

Arteriosclerosis: new understanding and treatment

Up until now it has been believed that deposits of lipoproteins cause arteriosclerosis. A cardiac surgeon has another explanation: the remains of dead vessel wall cells and associated supply disorders of the arterial wall cause this widespread and dangerous condition.

Arteriosclerosis a clotting of the blood vessels - kurimed clinicHow does arteriosclerosis develop? The opinion expressed for decades is based on a "calcification" of the arteries such as the coronary vessels, due to fats from the blood accumulating on the inner wall of the blood vessels.

The cardiac surgeon Professor Axel Haverich, MD and director of the Clinic for Cardiac, Thoracic, Transplantation and Vascular Surgery of the Hannover Medical School (MHH), however, presents a completely different theory: the fatty deposits do not come from the blood, but rather are remnants of dead cells of the vessel wall.

Consequence: An infarction of the arterial wall

Based on years of observations during cardiac and vascular surgery and findings gained through intensive research, Professor Haverich now presents a new theory on the cause of arteriosclerosis that contradicts the current view.

Arteries also need their own supply of oxygen and nutrients to their blood vessel walls. For this purpose, as the body grows, small tiny supply blood vessels in the outer wall of the artery, the so-called vasa vasorum, are formed in children. If these vasa vasorum close off, the cells die, especially in the middle wall layer: an infarction of the arterial wall occurs.

The most common cause of such occlusions of vasa vasorum are inflammatory reactions caused by viruses, bacteria and particulate matter, but also by harmful fat particles, oxidized LDL cholesterol. Nervous or traumatic causes occur less commonly. The dead cells, including the fat remnants, are now broken down by the immune system. "Cell waste", the so-called plaques are formed by the repair processes of the immune system, which lead to a thickening of the inner wall of the arteries and can ultimately cause the closure of the mother vessel.

Doubts about previous knowledge

"During hundreds of bypass operations, we found that only certain sections of the coronary arteries were calcified while the same vessel was never pathologically altered elsewhere," says Professor Haverich.

"We also made this observation in other flow areas, for example in the thigh. What the arteriosclerosis-free areas had in common was that they were surrounded by muscle outside. Since all small arteries in humans are only rarely affected anyway, it must be doubted that the process a) represents a generalized disease that b) begins on the inner wall."

The doubts were fuelled by the discovery of new risk factors for arteriosclerosis: For example, in recent years, numerous studies by other scientists have shown a clear link between an increased heart attack rate and the occurrence of flu epidemics with pneumonia , but also through particulate matter exposure. And more than 30 different microbes have been isolated from their DNA in arteriosclerotic plaques. These relationships can not be explained by the previous theory of increased blood lipids alone.

Starting point for innovative treatment approaches

There are still no regenerative therapies that can reverse atherosclerosis. Therefore, the known methods are still used - namely widening the narrow points by balloon catheter or the insertion of stents and the installation of a bypass. However, the new theory for the development of arteriosclerosis offers new approaches for the development of innovative treatments of the disease.

However, until these are available to patients, Professor Haverich recommends the prevention of arteriosclerosis: "In addition to the well-known beneficial habits such as healthy nutrition, adequate sleep and exercise, the prevention and control of infections as prevention of dangerous arteriosclerosis should be considered. These include, for example, the regular flu vaccine, the remediation of chronic inflammation and - above all - physical activity."