Reduce Inflammation and Clotting to Prevent Heart Attacks

Heart attacks and strokes cause 50 percent of the deaths in North America today, yet many people are not adopting the lifestyle changes needed to prevent the factors that cause them: inflammation and clotting.

A new study from the University of Michigan shows how important inflammation is as a cause of heart attacks and strokes (JCI, May 28, 2019). In this study, when mice formed clots in their blood vessels, they also had a rise in blood levels of interleukin-1 beta, a cytokine molecule that causes inflammation.

Giving the mice an enzyme called CD39, which blocks inflammation by markedly reducing interleukin-1 beta, reduced the size and number of clots that formed in their bodies. Blocking the anti-inflammatory CD39 increased the number and size of clots. CD39 is an enzyme found on the surface of white blood cells and the inner lining of blood vessels that inhibits inflammation. It is produced by humans, but its use in humans has not yet been tested and it is not an available treatment at this time.