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

Metabolism switch signals end for healing hearts

September 19, 2017
Researchers have identified the process that shuts down the human heart's ability to heal itself, and are now searching for a drug to reverse it.

Beta blockers not needed after heart attack if other medications taken

September 18, 2017
A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill finds beta blockers are not needed after a heart attack if heart-attack survivors are taking ACE inhibitors and statins. The study is the first to challenge ...

Which single behavior best prevents high blood pressure?

September 15, 2017
(HealthDay)—You probably already know that certain healthy lifestyle behaviors can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, but is any one behavior more important than the others?

RESPECT trial shows closing a small hole in heart may protect against recurrent stroke

September 13, 2017
A device used to close a small hole in the heart may benefit certain stroke patients by providing an extra layer of protection for those facing years of ongoing stroke risk, according to the results of a large clinical trial ...

Study shows so-called 'healthy obesity' is harmful to cardiovascular health

September 11, 2017
Clinicians are being warned not to ignore the increased cardiovascular health risks of those who are classed as either 'healthy obese' or deemed to be 'normal weight' but have metabolic abnormalities such as diabetes.

Statins reduce deaths from heart disease by 28 percent in men with high LDL levels, says longest ever study

September 6, 2017
Previous research has shown the benefit of statins for reducing high cholesterol and heart disease risk amongst different patient populations. However, until now there has been no conclusive evidence from trials for current ...

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.