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Blood vessel bends and branches put the brakes on statins
Date:7/9/2009

exposed to sluggish or disrupted blood flow.

Dr Mason, who led the team from the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London at Hammersmith Hospital, said: "Arteries don't clog up in a uniform way. Bends and branches of blood vessels - where blood flow is disrupted and can be sluggish - are much more prone to fatty plaques building-up and blocking the artery. What we've shown is that those regions of the arteries most likely to become diseased are the same regions that may not be benefiting maximally from statin treatment - a double whammy."

"We now hope to use these findings to identify a way to get the most out of statins, or to find other ways to switch on protective mechanisms in vulnerable areas of arteries."

Research suggests that the cells lining our arteries can sense 'shear stress' exerted by blood flowing past them, and that this affects their ability to keep the artery healthy. Straighter sections of arteries, with no branches, tend to have faster blood flow and are more protected from build-up of fatty plaques.

Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director of the BHF said "This research demonstrates how the physical forces inside blood vessels may influence the local action of drugs such as statins. The findings open avenues of investigation that could lead to greater health benefits of statins' being realised.

"Previous research has revealed that endothelial cells produce protective biological signals in parts of the artery where blood flow is fast and uniform and that this is lost in areas where blood flow is disrupted or non uniform, leading to build up of dangerous fatty deposits. This study shows that differing forces of blood flow may also cause the endothelial cells to be less responsive to a potentially protective antioxidant effect of statins.

"Research teams at Imperial - involving biologists and fluid engineers - are now taking these findings
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