How Calcium deposits in Arteries can cause Heart Problems

You must have heard about Cholesterol causing blockage in arteries, but calcium buildup can also cause much severe blockage which can result in heart attack. Calcium buildup in arteries is similar to bone formation, which is hard enough and harder to be penetrated by a stent, which is usually used to remove blockages in arteries. In this article we will try to find more facts about this calcium buildup, its possible causes and its treatment.

99% Calcium in our body is present in the form of our teeth and bones. Calcium is also necessary for normal functioning of muscles, nerves and blood vessels. Remaining 1% calcium remains in blood stream, fluids inside the cells and outside the cells. Calcification (calcium buildup) can occur in any part of body without any increased blood calcium level, so it is harder to predict it. Kidney stones are also a type of calcification that occur in kidneys. Calcium intake in the form of food or dietary supplement (for bone strength) is not linked to calcification in body.

How Calcium Buildup occurs in Arteries

Calcium is main constituent of our bones. Calcium buildup in arteries is similar to bone formation and usually very hard to break or dissolve. Two types of cells are responsible for bone formation and bone elimination. Osteoblasts are bone-producing cells, while Osteoclasts are bone-eliminating cells. These cells are also found in our blood stream in proper balance. Vascular calcifying progenitor cells in our blood have got the potential to become osteoblasts or osteoclasts. If osteoblasts count goes up due to some reason then it becomes a risk factor that hardens our arteries and may lead to formation of calcium deposits in arteries, which can lead to cardio-vascular diseases and heart attack in severe cases.

How Calcium Buildup in Arteries can be reversed ?

Calcium Buildup in Arteries is known as Calcification or Atherosclerosis. However some treatments are available, but majority of scientific community believes that plaque buildup of any kind (either cholesterol or calcium) can't be reversed, but can be prevented. Most of the treatments to remove the buildup are invasive.
Researches are still going on to find which chemicals can help progenitor cells in becoming Osteoclasts (bone-eliminating cells). Sca-1 and PDGFRa are cell surface protein found on these progenitor cells. Some cells contain just Sca-1 protein, while some cells contain both of these proteins. If the cell contain just Sca-1 protein then it it can transform into both osteoblasts or osteoclasts,  while when progenitor cells has got both of these proteins then it becomes only osteoblasts (bone producing cells).
Researchers have also found that when they treat these cells with another protein called PPARy, then only Sca-1expressed cells transformed in Osteoclasts (bone-eliminating cells). This treatment not just cured the symptoms in mouse, but also reversed the condition and cause the softening of arteries which previously hardened due to calcification.

What causes Calcification in body ?

  • If a person goes through surgery, radiation, trauma, infection, injury or a cyst then some fat cells die in the affected region of body. When these fat cells die, they release fatty acids that combine with calcium to form deposits. Arterial calcification can occur if some injury occurs inside the artery or due to some damaged tissues inside the artery.
  • High levels of calcium inside the blood stream can also cause calcification in arteries and other body parts, as after a certain level calcium can't remain dissolved in blood and start to form clots.
  • Hyperparathyroidism: It is a hormonal disorder that causes breakdown of calcium from bones and put that calcium into blood stream.
  • Sometimes tumors and some other medical conditions also cause release of more calcium in blood stream causing calcification.
  • Kidney Failure can also increase blood calcium level
  • More dietary intake of Vitamin D causes more absorption of Calcium from diet, that may also cause increased calcium level in blood.

Risk factors for Calcification in Arteries or Atherosclerosis

  • High blood pressure
  • High levels of sugar in the blood
  • Smoking
  • High levels of cholesterol

Symptoms of Calcification in Body

There is no particular symptom of calcification. But weakness, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, confusion or drowsiness are sometimes reported by patients. However these symptoms are also caused due to a number of other medical conditions, so they are often ignored.

What reduces Calcification

  • Green Tea, Black Tea and Ginger Tea are considered good for heart health.
  • Regular Exercise also reduces the chances of any type of plaque build up.
  • Smoking damages the  arterial walls, which leads to calcification. So if you quit smoking then it is a major step to save yourself from calcification.
Note: Once your arteries have got plaque built-up, then any medication or lifestyle change is just a minor help. So instead of being in such condition, it is better to prevent such condition. Exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet.
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