Fat around arteries may keep blood vessels healthy, surprising study reveals

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(John Anderer/ Study Finds) — Fat, when it’s located around an artery, may actually be a good thing, believe it or not. That’s the surprising conclusion of a recent Michigan State University study that focused on blood vessel health. If true, this discovery could conceivably change how medical professionals and researchers alike test for treatments related to plaque buildup in arteries (atherosclerosis).

Atherosclerosis is usually a precursor to a heart attack, which is among the leading causes of death in the United States.

This fat, referred to as perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT), helps arteries “stress relax,” or release muscular tension while under stress. Researchers compare this action to the bladder, which naturally expands as a person produces more urine.

“In our study, PVAT reduced the tension that blood vessels experience when stretched,” explains Stephanie Watts, MSU professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, in a release. “And that’s a good thing, because the vessel then expends less energy. It’s not under as much stress.” (…)

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