A recent study has once again found a possible link between telomere shortening and an increased risk of disease. This particular study, conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, has found an increased risk of cardiovascular death or heart attack in those with short telomeres. The study measured the telomere length in 5,044 patients with an acute coronary syndrome over a period of 18 months, and found that those patients with shorter telomeres had the highest risk of cardiovascular death or heart attack, regardless of their age.
These findings show that measuring telomere length may prove clinically useful, as it may provide a kind of prediction of the patient’s cardiovascular future. “Telomere shortening may represent some sort of ‘biological clock’ which integrates the cumulative effect of environmental and genetic stresses on the body, both of which can contribute to cardiovascular events,” said Christian T. Ruff, MD, MPH, Cardiovascular Division, BWH Department of Medicine, and lead study investigator.
The researchers plan on investigating further into the relationship between telomeres and cardiovascular health, in order to hopefully identify the specific characteristics that predict telomere shortening. “We hope to have the ability to determine if therapies and medications that impact these processes may delay telomere attrition and lessen the risk of cardiovascular events in these patients,” said Ruff.