In the world of heart disease, a recent breakthrough by scientists from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has brought new hope.
Their research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine Evidence, shows that a simple blood test can help predict the fate of patients with a common type of heart failure.
This finding is an important step forward in medical science and could pave the way for better treatment options in the future.
What Did The Researchers Find?
The main player in this discovery is a protein fragment called endotrophin. Our bodies naturally produce endotrophin, and its level can be measured in our blood.
Scientists found that by testing for this protein in the blood, they could predict how well heart failure patients will do in the future.
This was especially true for a common type of heart failure called HFpEF, which stands for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
According to Dr. Julio Chirinos, the lead scientist of the study, this protein could be very useful for identifying patients who are at a high risk of serious health problems.
Dr. Chirinos, along with other leading scientists from Bristol Myers Squibb and Nordic Bioscience, worked together to publish this groundbreaking research.
This study was supported by the Global Heart Failure Consortium (GHFC), an international group of medical centers and industry partners dedicated to learning more about HFpEF.
This group was formed in 2019 by the Perelman School of Medicine and Bristol Myers Squibb.
Why is This Discovery Important?
Heart failure is a serious condition where the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. There are many reasons why this might happen, but it always results in the heart becoming weaker over time.
If someone is diagnosed with heart failure, their chances of surviving the next five years drop to about 45%. This is significantly lower than the 70% survival rate for people of the same age without heart failure.
For the type of heart failure called HFpEF, the main problem is that the heart muscle becomes too stiff. It can’t relax properly, making it less efficient at pumping blood.
This stiffness is due to a process called fibrosis, where normal muscle is replaced by stiff, scar-like tissue. Scientists believe that endotrophin, the protein fragment they tested for, is involved in this process.
One of the goals for doctors treating heart failure is to predict how a patient will do in the future. This allows them to recommend more aggressive treatments for patients who are likely to have worse outcomes.
The discovery of endotrophin as a predictor for heart failure is a significant breakthrough in achieving this goal.
The Details of the Study
In their study, researchers tested the blood of 205 patients with HFpEF. They divided these patients into three groups based on their endotrophin levels and followed their progress over four years.
The findings were very clear. Patients with the highest levels of endotrophin were several times more likely to have a heart attack, be hospitalized due to heart failure, or die from any heart-related cause.
They were also more likely to die from any cause during the four years of the study.
When the researchers tested this finding with other groups of patients, they found the same results.
They also compared endotrophin levels to other methods of predicting heart failure outcomes and found that endotrophin was a better predictor.
The Future of Heart Failure Treatment
Based on these exciting results, companies are now developing a blood test for endotrophin. This could help doctors predict how well their heart failure patients will do in the future.
Dr. Chirinos expressed optimism about the possibilities of this finding.
He believes that in addition to predicting outcomes, understanding endotrophin could also shed light on the underlying biological processes that cause heart failure. This could potentially lead to new treatments targeting endotrophin.
If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and scientists find how COVID-19 damages the heart.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about Aspirin linked to higher risk of heart failure, and results showing this drug could reduce heart disease, fatty liver, obesity.
The study was published in NEJM Evidence.
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