Short telomeres — the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes — have been previously linked to increased risk of death from heart disease. Now, research by scientists at UC San Francisco and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco has found that change in telomere length over time is also important….
The research, published online in PLoS One on October 26, 2016, was directed by Mary Whooley, MD, a professor of medicine and of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF and director of cardiac rehabilitation for the UCSF-affiliated San Francisco VA Health Care System.
The team tracked health outcomes over nine years for 608 men and women with stable cardiovascular disease who were enrolled in the UCSF-led Heart and Soul Study. The researchers measured patients’ leukocyte telomere length at the start of the study and again five years later, and then examined whether the difference between these measurements predicted which patients were most likely to die over the next four years.
The researchers found that these three groups were similar in traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, BMI, and cholesterol levels. However, those whose telomeres shortened over the course of the study also showed higher abdominal fat, worse kidney function, and lower overall fitness….
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