[dohtml]<p align="right"><i>Friday 12 January 2007</i></p><p align="center"><b><font size="4">Shrinking telomeres linked to heart disease</font></b></p>[/dohtml]The gradual erosion of telomeres – the strands of DNA that cap our chromosomes and wear away with each cell division – may play a pivotal role in heart disease. People who go on to have heart attacks have much shorter telomeres than those who remain healthy, a major new study has shown.
Researchers from Leicester and Glasgow Universities in the UK took blood samples from 484 middle-aged men with moderately raised cholesterol, plus [dohtml]1 058[/dohtml] control subjects. They compared the telomere lengths in their white bloods cells at that time and then five years later.
Both patients and controls with the shortest telomeres five years on were twice as likely to have developed serious heart disease. Intriguingly, the study also found that drugs called statins, which are better known for their cholesterol-lowering properties, appeared to alleviate the effects of telomere damage – and may even have protected telomeres against degradation.
These unexpected discoveries provide important new insights into the causes of arterial disease – the western world’s biggest killer.[dohtml]<blockquote><font face="Trebuchet MS">Full story at <a href="http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10942-shrinking-telomeres-linked-to-heart-disease.html" target="_blank">New Scientist</a></font></blockquote>[/dohtml]