Scientists find an important cause of heart damage

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Heart disease is America’s number-one killer. Despite advances in medicine like pills to control blood pressure and diabetes, or aspirin and cholesterol-lowering drugs, heart disease continues to take many lives.

It feels like we’re trying to put out a fire, but the flames keep coming back.

A group of scientists from the University of Michigan may have just found a clue that can help us understand why this keeps happening.

Their research centers on a protein called suPAR and its surprising role in heart—and even kidney—disease.

What is suPAR and Why Does it Matter?

SuPAR is a protein that our bodies produce. Think of it as the thermostat of your immune system, keeping everything balanced. The problem begins when there’s too much of it.

Elevated levels of suPAR can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis. In simple terms, this is when the tubes carrying blood in our body, known as arteries, become stiff and narrow.

Blood has a hard time moving through, which makes the heart work extra hard and sets the stage for heart disease.

Connecting the Dots: The Big Discoveries

The scientists looked at information from thousands of people. In one study of 5,000 people who were heart disease-free, those with higher levels of suPAR were more likely to get heart problems later on.

This was true regardless of other things that could put their heart at risk, like high blood pressure or bad cholesterol.

They also studied the genes of 24,000 people and found that some have a different version of the gene that controls suPAR levels.

Those with this version tend to have higher levels of the protein. What’s eye-opening is that this genetic trait was linked to heart disease in a mega-study involving half a million people.

The team didn’t stop there; they also studied mice. They found that the little critters with more suPAR in their systems had more fatty build-ups in their main heart artery.

Not Just the Heart: The Kidney Connection

Here’s where things get even more interesting. The study also found a link between suPAR and kidney disease, a condition affecting 1 in 7 Americans.

Many people who have kidney disease also suffer from heart disease, and vice versa. This study suggests that high levels of suPAR could be a common factor affecting both.

What Does This Mean for Your Health?

The discoveries about suPAR could change the game in fighting heart disease. Doctors are now looking at ways to reduce suPAR levels as a new form of treatment.

This could be a big leap forward because the treatments we’ve had up until now don’t tackle suPAR.

Additionally, knowing that suPAR affects both the heart and kidneys can help doctors see the bigger picture. This new understanding can pave the way for more comprehensive treatments for multiple conditions, not just one.

Led by Salim Hayek and his team, the study opens up a new chapter in understanding heart disease.

It reminds us that our body parts are deeply connected and in treating diseases, we might need to look at the whole system, not just one piece of the puzzle.

If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies about a common and unrecognized cause of high blood pressure, and this small habit can greatly benefit people with high blood pressure, and cholesterol.

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