Posted on Apr 09, 2012, 6 a.m.
The length of telomeres, sections of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes, may associate with the risk of cardiovascular death or heart attack.
Telomeres are sections of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes, protecting them from damage and the loss of cell functions associated with aging. Christian T. Ruff, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Massachusetts, USA), and colleagues measured telomere length in 5,044 patients with acute coronary syndrome who were followed for 18 months. The researchers observed the telomere length was strongly associated with the risk of cardiovascular death or heart attack: patients with shorter telomeres were at the highest risk, and the relationship was consistent across various age groups. The study authors comment that: "Telomere shortening may represent some sort of ‘ biological clock’ which integrates the cumulative effect of environmental and genetic stress on the body, both of which could contribute to cardiovascular events."
Ruff C., et al. Shorter telomeres linked to poor cardiovascular outcomes [Abstract]. Presented at the American College of Cardiology 2012 Annual Scientific Session, 25 March 2012.