Scientists are now saying that a 'bad' metabolism may explain why some people who have never smoked and do not have high cholesterol levels suffer from a potentially lethal build-up of plaque in the arteries.
Plaque build-up, or atherosclerosis, is the main cause of cardiovascular diseases and increases the risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack.
A team of researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri have found that an abnormal metabolism in the walls of the arteries can lead to atherosclerosis.
Clay Semenkovich, who led the research team says that for years people have said that a bad metabolism runs in their family, and the study suggests 'bad' metabolism does lead to inflammation in blood vessel walls and can contribute to heart attacks and strokes.
The scientists made the discovery while studying genetically engineered mice.
Semenkovich says that if an abnormal cellular metabolism can cause atherosclerosis, then modifying that metabolism may treat or prevent it, and says they are very interested in the potential for nutritionally modifying these processes with specific fats.
The scientists believe a deficiency in essential fatty acids that are required in the human diet may contribute to changes in metabolism in the wall of blood vessels.
Fish, shellfish, soya oil, pumpkin seeds, leafy vegetables and walnuts are all rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and Semenkovich says it would be interesting to figure out how to take essential fatty acids, get them into the vessel wall and see if you could treat atherosclerosis that way.
He and his team are now studying modifications in the diet of mice to see if the changes increase essential fatty acids in blood vessels.