Length of DNA strands can predict life expectancy of heart patients

Last Updated: Mar 10, 2013, 12:28 PM IST

Washington: Researchers have been able to predict survival rates among patients with heart disease based on the length of strands of DNA found on the ends of chromosomes known as telomeres.

The new study found that the longer the patient`s telomeres, the greater the chance of living a longer life.

Previous research has shown that length of telomere can be used as a measure of age, but these expanded findings suggest that they may also predict the life expectancy of patients with heart disease.

Telomeres protect the ends of chromosome from becoming damaged.

As people get older, their telomeres get shorter until the cell is unable to divide.

John Carlquist, PhD, director of the Intermountain Heart Institute Genetics Lab said once telomeres become too short, they no longer function properly, signalling the end of life for the cell and when cells reach this stage, the patient`s risk for age-associated diseases increases dramatically.

Carlquist and his colleagues from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center tested the DNA samples from more than 3,500 heart attack and stroke patients.

He said that their research shows that if statistically adjusted for age, patients with longer telomeres live longer, suggesting that telomere length is more than just a measure of age, but may also indicate the probability for survival.

Longer telomere length directly correlate with the likelihood for a longer life-even for patients with heart disease.