Hope for the heart!

Updated: Sep 27, 2011, 16:22 PM IST

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women and kills more people each year than any other disease. Change in lifestyles, medications and surgical procedure are all existing treatments for heart disease. The best treatment is to prevent heart disease from occurring by knowing the risk factors.

Researchers are working to spot new risk factors for heart disease.

In a new study, researchers revealed that a protein known to control cholesterol is also linked to the creation of the type of blood clot called thrombosis that causes heart attacks and strokes. So as to control the protein called `LXR`, the solution lies in developing drugs that will check thrombosis and manage cholesterol levels.

They are of the view that while blood clotting is vital to stop bleeding, inappropriate clotting within the circulation triggers heart attacks and strokes.

This novel study makes way for more effective medicine to prevent thrombosis. The researchers targeted protein in mice with experimental drugs. The treatment allowed small clots to form but acted hastily to inhibit their formation by about 40% preventing them from blocking blood vessels and triggering a heart attack. Both anti-clotting and cholesterol-lowering drugs are vital in reducing the possibility of a heart attack but are not always effective due to the risk of side-effects. This breakthrough shows that drugs which lower cholesterol through targeting LXR protein can lessen harmful blood clotting which paves the way for new and more effective treatments.

In another development, researchers discovered that patients who were at risk for osteoporosis and who were taking 500mg of calcium supplements a day without vitamin D were 30% more likely to experience a heart attack. Calcium supplements increase blood serum calcium levels which increases a person`s chance for having a heart attack. But the treatment and preventative care should be based on an person`s health profile.

In a new study, it has been pointed out that 7 hours of sleep is the optimal amount of sleep for healthy cardiac health. As per their interview survey, the researchers claimed that adults who slept for 5 hours including naps were twice as likely to experience a heart attack and heart disease as the adults who slept for 7 hours. The study also found that people who slept more than 9 hours were 1 1/2 times more likely to experience a cardiac event. Researchers were unable to establish the causal connection between sleep and heart disease. It also mentioned that sleep affects the endocrine and metabolic systems which can lead to elevated blood pressure, impaired glucose tolerance and reduced insulin sensitivity which can lead to heart disease.

Researchers have also analyzed blood protein data from postmenopausal women who developed heart disease and found that beta-2 microglobulin were higher in postmenopausal women with heart disease. Researchers also found another biomarker, insulin-like growth factor binding protein 4 was associated with stroke.
All these findings will help doctors to provide the best course of preventive care and treatment for the patients.

Compiled by: Chonmipem Horam

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