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Preventing heart problems while keeping a cool head
Date:7/26/2010

Cholesterol influences the health of our hearts and blood vessels. Conventional treatment attempts to reduce the level of "bad" cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, in the blood plasma. The opposite approach, which involves increasing the concentration of "good" HDL cholesterol using nicotinic acid, has proven unpopular among patients up to now. The reason for this is that treatment with nicotinic acid has an unpleasant but harmless side-effect: the drug makes patients turn quite red in the face. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim have now discovered the mechanism behind this effect, which is known as flushing. This will enable the development of flush inhibitors and thereby the more effective prevention of cardiovascular diseases. (Journal of Clinical Investigation, online version: July 26, 2010)

In addition to a healthy lifestyle, the treatment of lipid metabolic disorders is one of the important measures used in the prevention of cardio-vascular disease. Cholesterol is the key molecule here and LDL cholesterol is the type of cholesterol most widely discussed in this context. This "bad" cholesterol is one of the most important risk factors for the emergence of cardio-vascular diseases. The higher the blood-plasma concentration of LDL cholesterol, the higher an individual's risk of suffering cardiac arrest, stroke or peripheral vascular disease. The opposite applies to the "good" HDL cholesterol: in other words, the higher an individual's level of HDL cholesterol, the lower his or her risk of contracting these diseases. For this reason, the strategy of increasing HDL plasma concentration through medication has become more prevalent of late. The drug on which most hopes are pinned here is nicotinic acid.

"The main problem with treatment using nicotinic acid which has nothing to do with the nicotine in tobacco, by the way is flushing," says Stefan Offermanns, Director of the Department of Phar
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Contact: Stefan Offermanns
stefan.offermanns@mpi-bn.mpg.de
49-060-327-051-201
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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