Harvard Health Tips

Benefits and harms of inflammation

Inflammation is an essential part of the body's defenses. It helps guard against bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders; remove debris; and repair damaged tissue. But it can also be like friendly fire. Inflammation kicks off the process that deposits cholesterol-filled plaque inside arteries and keeps it going. Inflammation is also involved in the process that creates artery-blocking blood clots, the ultimate cause of heart attacks and many strokes. …

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