Protein linked to increased risk of heart failure and death in older adults

August 29, 2012

A protein known as galectin-3 can identify people at higher risk of heart failure, according to new research supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health. This research is based on work from the NHLBI's Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1948 and has been the leading source of research findings about heart disease risk factors.

"Galectin-3, a Marker of Cardiac Fibrosis, Predicts Incident in the Community," will be published online August 29 in the and in the October 2 print issue.

Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot fill with enough blood and/or pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. Galactin-3 has recently been associated with cardiac fibrosis, a condition in which replaces , and cardiac fibrosis plays an important role in the development of heart failure.

Heart failure carries enormous risk for death or a lifetime of disability and often there are few warning signs of impending heart failure. Measuring levels of galectin-3 in the blood may offer a way to identify high-risk individuals who could benefit from treatments to prevent debilitating heart failure and death. Early identification of predisposed individuals would allow treatment to begin long before heart failure develops and could help people at high risk for heart failure to live longer, more active lives.

Galectin-3 levels were measured in 1996-1998 as part of a routine examination of 3,353 participants enrolled in the Offspring Cohort of the . At the time of measurement the average age of the participants was 59 years old. During an average follow-up of 11 years, 166 participants (5.1 percent) had a first heart failure event. Among the 25 percent of people with the highest galectin-3 levels (ranging from 15.4 to 52.1 nanograms per milliliter) the annual rate of heart failure was 12 per 1,000 people compared with 3 per 1,000 people for the 25 percent of participants with the lowest galectin-3 levels (ranging from 3.9 to 12 per milliliter). Fifty-three percent of participants were women.

Spironolactone and other related drugs believed to counteract cardiac fibrosis have been shown to improve outcomes in heart failure patients. Future research will be needed to determine whether treatment with these or other drugs can benefit healthy patients with elevated galectin-3 levels.

Explore further: Taking vitamin E does not impact women's heart failure risk

Related Stories

Taking vitamin E does not impact women's heart failure risk

March 20, 2012
Taking vitamin E supplements does not increase or decrease heart failure risk among women, according to a study in Circulation: Heart Failure, an American Heart Association journal.

A heart-rate-reducing medication reduces the risk of heart failure and cardiac fibrosis

July 28, 2011
The findings of a Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) study published in the scientific journal Cardiology suggest that ivabradine, a heart rate reduction medication, is also effective in reducing the risk of diastolic heart failure ...

Healthy lifestyle habits lower heart failure risk

September 13, 2011
If you don't smoke, aren't overweight, get regular physical activity and eat vegetables, you can significantly reduce your risk for heart failure, according to research reported in Circulation: Heart Failure, an American ...

Recommended for you

Research suggests new pathways for hyperaldosteronism

December 7, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP), in collaboration with researchers at Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the ...

One-dose gene therapy produces clotting factor, safely stops bleeding in hemophilia B patients

December 6, 2017
A team of gene therapy researchers has reported positive results in a phase 1/2 clinical trial for the inherited bleeding disorder hemophilia B. A single intravenous infusion of a novel bioengineered gene therapy treatment ...

Clot-busting drugs not recommended for most patients with blood clots

December 6, 2017
Not all patients with blood clots in their legs - a condition known as deep vein thrombosis - need to receive powerful but risky clot-busting drugs, according to results of a large-scale, multicenter clinical trial.

Mitochondrial protein in cardiac muscle cells linked to heart failure, study finds

December 5, 2017
Reducing a protein found in the mitochondria of cardiac muscle cells initiates cardiac dysfunction and heart failure, a finding that could provide insight for new treatments for cardiovascular diseases, a study led by Georgia ...

Blood pressure declines 14 to 18 years before death

December 4, 2017
Blood pressure in the elderly gradually begins to decrease about 14 or so years before death, according to a new study published today in the JAMA Internal Medicine.

Study links common male medical condition and vascular disease

December 1, 2017
Men who suffer symptoms from varicoceles, enlarged veins in the scrotum, are more likely to develop vascular disease and metabolic disease, such as diabetes, according to a study by Stanford University School of Medicine ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.