An abnormal blood clot inside a blood vessel is called thrombosis. Thrombosis has been described as coagulation occurring in the wrong place or at the wrong time. The end result of thrombosis is an obstruction of the blood flow. Since the leading cause of death in the Western world is the formation of an abnormal blood clot inside a blood vessel, it is important for healthy people to take steps to prevent thrombosis. For those with risk factors for developing thrombosis, aggressive actions must be taken to protect against stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, pulmonary embolus, etc.
As noted above, thrombi are clots that form in a blood vessel or in the wrong place: in an artery, a vein, or in the chambers of the heart. Thrombi in the arteries form under high pressure and flow conditions and are composed of platelet aggregates bound together by intrinsic fibrin protein strands. Clots in veins form under low flow conditions, are composed predominantly of red cells with few platelets, and contain a large amount of interspersed fibrin strands.
The prevention of thrombosis is essential in order to significantly reduce heart disease, cancer, and stroke mortality. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death at approximately 1 million deaths yearly. This is about twice the incidence of yearly cancer deaths. Of these cardiovascular deaths, coronary artery disease represents approximately 51%, while strokes represent 16%. These diseases involve thrombosis in their evolution and make up a significant percentage of all cardiovascular deaths (American Heart Association 1997). In addition, thrombosis is a common killer of cancer patients. Therefore, it becomes paramount to optimize the prevention of thrombosis in order to reduce the high incidence of death from cardiovascular as well as other diseases.
Lipoprotein(a) is an altered form of LDL cholesterol that has a structure nearly identical to plasminogen, a protein that forms plasmin. Plasmin dissolves fibrin. Unfortunately, lipoprotein(a) inhibits the breakdown of fibrin by competing with plasminogen. Lipoprotein(a) was found to be a key component in blood clots, plaque formation and coronary heart disease (CHD) (Rath et al. 1989; Beisiegel et al. 1990).
Linus Pauling's theory of heart disease focused on the adverse effects of lipoprotein(a) on the cardiovascular system. Pauling and Rath proposed that lipoprotein(a) acted as a surrogate (replacement) for vitamin C (Rath et al. 1990a). They also proposed that a deficiency of vitamin C resulted in the increased production of lipoprotein(a) which both hardened the arteries and caused blood clots (Rath et al. 1990b). Linus Pauling recommended the use of high doses of pure vitamin C and lysine to both prevent and treat cardiovascular disease. Niacin, CoQ10, serine, and regular aerobic exercise have also been shown to lower lipoprotein(a) (Cohn 1998; Singh et al. 1999; Batiste et al. 2002).