But what if there was a drug that could reverse that dangerous buildup of fatty material and simply ‘melt’ it away from the walls of our arteries?
This type of drug - which honestly sounds a little too good to be true - could be more of a reality than we imaged after new trials at the University of Aberdeen found that diabetes drug Trodusquemine, could do exactly that.
Over time all humans are vulnerable to atherosclerosis - the buildup of fatty material - which gradually narrows our arteries and blood pathways eventually stopping the flow of blood altogether.
Professor Mirela Delibegovic and Dr Dawn Thompson, who led the study, said: “All humans have some level of atherosclerosis. As you age you start to develop these fatty streaks inside your arteries. It is a big problem for people who are overweight or have underlying cardiovascular conditions.”
And it is atherosclerosis which causes the most heart attacks and strokes in the UK
But these new trials found Trodusquemine was able to completely reverse this in preclinical mouse models.
The drug, which is currently being tested for the treatment of breast cancer and diabetes, was shown to have a reversing effect with as little as one dose.
That’s right, it doesn’t require years of endless treatment before the side effects start to become apparent.
The drug works by stopping an enzyme called PTP1B, which is normally increased in people with obesity or diabetes and conditions involving prolonged inflammation such as sepsis, inflamed diabetic foot ulcers and allergic lung inflammation.
Not only does Trodusquemine stop PTP1B from working, but it also stimulates the action of another protein, AMPK, which effectively mimics exercise and reduces chronic inflammation.
This study, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), is the first time the drug has been shown to have benefits for long-term cardiovascular disease.
“The next step is to test the ability of this drug to improve outcomes in human patients with developed atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease,” said Professor Delibegovic.
According to the BHF, cardiovascular disease causes 26% of all deaths in the UK - that’s nearly 160,000 deaths each year. And an average of 435 people each day or one death every three minutes.