Pythons might help researchers find a cure to heart disease.
This time of year, when ghosts and goblins and other spooky things are on everyone's mind, you would probably see a photo of a python and think "horror film" — not "possible medical cure." But this Halloween, pythons are the subject of big heart health news. In fact, researchers believe that studying pythons might be one way to cure heart diesease.
Researchers are studying the blood of pythons to better understand how the snake's heart and system can withstand the impact of eating a massive meal (we've all seen those videos where a python eats something enormous like a rabbitt or an alligator) when its heart and other organs double in size — and yet can also go a year without food with no loss of muscle or ill effects.
Published in the journal Science, scientists found that a pythons expands its heart through hypertrophy, which is when existing cells expand (the same process by which your muscles get bigger when you lift weights). Also, researchers learned that a specific combination of fatty acids allows the pythons organs to grow in size. More study is needed, but researchers believe that understanding the python could help them develop new ways to treat or even prevent heart disease.
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.