Cardiovascular disease is responsible for almost 18 million deaths every year, making it the top killing-disease in the world. Now, researchers at Newcastle University in the UK have found that a simple blood test may be able to identify cardiovascular ageing and thus one’s risk of developing the disease.
Working with several international scientists, Professor Konstantinos Stellos and his team from Newcastle University examined blood samples from over 6,600 people from various studies taking place across nine countries. In analyzing the patients, they found that they could be divided into high and low risk categories for cardiovascular disease based on levels of amyloid-beta present in their blood..
Although typically associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease, scientists now suspect that amyloid-beta protein may also play a significant role in vascular stiffening, the thickening of the arteries, heart failure and other cardiovascular ailments.
Stellos said, “Our work has created and put all the pieces of the puzzle together. For the first time, we have provided evidence of the involvement of amyloid-beta in early and later stages of cardiovascular disease. What is really exciting is that we were able to reproduce these unexpected, clinically meaningful findings in patients from around the world. In all cases, we observed that amyloid-beta is a biomarker of cardiovascular aging and of cardiovascular disease prognosis."
Currently, one’s risk of having a heart attack is measured via the GRACE score, which factors in a patient’s age, heart rate and pulse, kidney function, blood pressure and other elevated biomarkers. Given the new findings on amyloid-beta proteins however, the researchers now hope that measuring for levels of the protein may also be factored into the GRACE score.
To this end, Stellos and colleagues will now focus on creating clinical trials to further understand whether amyloid-beta levels can really be used tdetermine one’s risk of a heart attack or even death, as well as ways to reduce amyloid-beta levels in the blood. Stellos said, “Measuring amyloid-beta reclassified a large proportion of patients who had a heart attack in the correct risk categories over an established guideline-suggested risk score in independent clinical studies...If blood-based amyloid-beta predicts death in patients with heart disease, does it make a therapeutic target? Our next step is to investigate this."