Atherosclerosis is one of the most common vascular diseases: millions of people suffer from blocked arteries. As researchers have now shown, the cells behave similarly to those of tumors. How this can be an advantage.

Cardiologist Stefan Waller describes arteriosclerosis as the “biggest killer”. It is considered the main trigger for heart attacks and strokes and describes the condition in which the arteries increasingly “calcify”. This “calcification” is triggered by deposits that arise, for example, from “bad” cholesterol.

One of the reasons for this is an unhealthy diet. Many sugary and highly processed foods in particular lead to arteriosclerosis. But too little exercise and stress also play a role. High blood pressure, diabetes and smoking are also risk factors.

Like many other heart diseases, arteriosclerosis is one of the diseases of civilization. As a spokesman for the German Society for Arteriosclerosis explained in an interview with FOCUS online, most people develop it in the course of their lives – some with serious consequences.

In Germany alone, according to the German Heart Foundation, at least 4.7 million people are currently affected and the disease is related to coronary heart disease. The result: pain in muscles and limbs. A stroke or a heart attack can occur later. Others experience kidney disease and even kidney failure.

Researchers have now discovered a specific mechanism in the arteries. The cells located there behave similarly to cancer cells, a team from Columbia University showed in a new study. This appeared in the journal “Circulation”.

In experiments, “striking parallels” emerged between the muscle cells in the blocked arteries and tumor cells. Below, for example

According to researchers, the latter in particular seemed to accelerate arteriosclerosis.

After all, unlike malignant tumor cells, muscle cells do not metastasize. So that means they don’t “spread”. As study author Muredach Reilly explained, the cells behave “for the most part like good tumor cells”. But this needs to be investigated further. What is interesting, however, is the new therapeutic approach for arteriosclerosis that could result from this: If the vascular calcification is caused by cancer-like cells – then cancer drugs and therapies could also be used to prevent arteriosclerosis. This should also be investigated in the future.

However, even better than treating arteriosclerosis is preventing it. “Dr. Heart” Stefan Waller includes the following three measures. they should

With this lifestyle you can often also improve your blood lipid levels and your blood pressure levels. The best way to check this is to arrange regular check-ups with your doctor.