World-first research on blood hormone might scale back cardiovascular deaths

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World-first study on blood hormone could reduce cardiovascular deaths

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A simple blood test could identify seemingly healthy people at high hidden risk for heart disease, thanks to a worldwide first discovery by researchers at the University of Otago, Christchurch.

Researchers at the university's Christchurch Heart Institute looked at blood samples and cardiac exams from 665 healthy young and middle-aged people with no previous heart disease. They found that people with high levels of hormones in the blood, the so-called C-type natriuretic peptides (CNP), are significantly more likely to have stiffening of the arteries, reduced pumping action by the heart, and higher levels of fat in the blood and liver. and decreased kidney function – all signs of an increased risk of heart disease.

The discovery could one day enable doctors to identify those people whose lives could be saved from future heart attacks through interventions such as drugs or lifestyle changes.

The study is the first to describe an association between the blood hormone CNP and inflammation in a number of tissues including arteries and the heart. The results were recently published in the prestigious Peptides Journal.

Lead researcher Dr. Tim Prickett says CNP appears to protect the arteries from hardening and blocking. This means that it works hard and is found in higher concentrations in people with potentially poor and undiscovered cardiovascular health.

"We looked at two very different groups of healthy people – one aged 28 and the other aged 50 – both with no history of heart or kidney disease. People with stiffer arteries were found to have high levels of CNP in both age groups The pumping action of the heart, higher fat levels in the blood and liver and decreased kidney function. "

Dr. Prickett says that inflamed and clogged arteries can cause numerous physical problems, including scarring and stiffness, as well as damage to organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys. "We found that CNP in the bloodstream reflects increased production of CNP in these tissues as part of a protective response to inflammation."

He says that establishing that CNP protects the body is key to saving lives by early detection of serious conditions such as atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

This is one of several discoveries made by the Christchurch Heart Institute over the past 25 years. The research group discovered and developed blood tests to diagnose and treat heart disease, some of which are used in hospitals and emergency rooms in New Zealand and around the world.

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More information:
Timothy CR Prickett et al. Circulating C-Type Natriuretic Peptide Products and Links to Organ Function in Health and Disease, Peptides (2020). DOI: 10.1016 / j.peptides.2020.170363

Provided by
University of Otago

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