What is endothelial cell dysfunction?

Chris Kilham
Alternative & Complementary Medicine

Endothelial cell dysfunction refers to a problem with the cells that line the interior of our blood vessels; the cells can become inflamed and lead to cardiovascular issues. Watch "Medicine Hunter" Chris Kilham discuss the danger of this condition.

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Endothelial cells are the flat cells that line the insides of blood vessels. When endothelial cells become dysfunctional, they can tell the artery to contract when it should be relaxing. This can make the artery spasm. Many of the things that cause atherosclerosis -- smoking, diabetes, lack of exercise, hypertension, and high cholesterol -- are the same things that cause endothelial dysfunction. Even passive smoke inhalation can cause it.

If your doctor has told you that you have endothelial dysfunction, it is likely that you have already had an angiogram to exclude the possibility that your chest pain is due to a major blockage of one or more coronary arteries. (If not, it might be worth asking your doctor about this test.) In that case, your first step to reducing your attacks is avoiding any of the factors that can prompt the coronary arteries to spasm. This includes all of the coronary risk factors that one can attack, like blood pressure and cholesterol. It especially includes smoking, and even breathing secondhand smoke.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.