NEWSFLASH: FAT CLOGS BLOOD VESSELS It may seem late in the day to declare this, but new research provides the first solid evidence that fat in the bloodstream can trigger clogged blood vessels, the top cause of heart attacks.

If further research bears this out, people might someday be tested for this fat to forecast heart trouble, the authors of a New England Journal of Medicine study suggest. The correlation between fat and heart attack was particularly strong for those younger than 60.

No one really knows what causes the formation of blockages, which can squeeze blood vessels shut and deprive the heart of nourishment. Most studies have focused on cholesterol, but other factors must be involved, since many heart attack victims have normal cholesterol levels.

Scientists studied 504 people who were being tested for clogged arteries. Among those 60 or younger, people with the highest levels of oxidized phospholipids, a component of "bad" cholesterol, were three times more likely to have blockages than those with the lowest levels.

THE ONE-POUND CHALLENGE For overweight people hobbled by knee arthritis, losing even one pound can slow progression of the disease, a study in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism shows.

The study, of 142 overweight adults with knee arthritis, found that for each pound participants lost, there was a four-pound reduction in the force hitting their knees with every stride.

That, according to the researchers, means that dropping just one pound would reduce the load on the knee joint enough to slow arthritis progression.

-- From News Services