Cholesterol and blood pressure levels are used as heart-attack risk markers, but a new blood test may tell more.
Silent and Scary
It’s been fairly well documented that the symptoms of an impending heart attack can be silent. Meaning, you didn’t really know it was coming. And for women, the signs can be very different and even subtler. It’s scary to wonder if you’re at high risk for having at heart attack. High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol have been concerns. Now, however, a new blood test may reveal that your risk of attack is low, even if you have those “other risk factors.”
The Blood Tells a Story
A team of researchers in London studied over 1700 people for more than five years. All of the participants were at risk for heart problems. 470 of those people suffered a stroke or a heart attack during the study period. The blood of those who had an attack was compared to those who did not. Those who had an episode were found to have low levels of antibodies.
Antibodies—molecules produced by the immune system—were found in abundance in those who did not suffer an attack. Hence, the stronger the immune system, the less risk of having a heart attack. Even with other risk factors, those with high levels of IgG antibodies remained heart-problem free.
IgG anibodies are found within all our bodily fluids. They protect our body against viruses and bacteria. Greater levels of IgG found in the blood tests linked to a lower risk of heart attack and even heart disease. This blood test could eventually become another predictor of heart attack risk.
Additionally, these research findings indicate that a stronger immune system protects against heart attack and stroke, even with other factors. So, for example, you have high cholesterol. If your IgG antibody count is super high, you are still at low risk (even with the cholesterol numbers.) That means certain cholesterol-lowering drugs many not be needed if the IgG theory holds true.
One expert explains, “These are very interesting findings linking the immune system to protection from heart disease.” More focus placed on strengthening the immune system may be the way to avoid heart attacks. This certainly seems positive and a greater holistic approach to health maintenance.
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