Blood Protein Warns of Pulmonary Hypertension

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2010-10-25 06:32

A possible breakthrough in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary hypertension has been discovered by a Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher. It appears that elevated levels of a blood protein called PIM-1 may be an indicator of this life-threatening condition.

Pulmonary hypertension is treatable but incurable and deadly

Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the arteries that supply blood to the lungs. Over time, the blood vessels that transport blood from the heart to the lungs become narrow and hard, forcing the heart to work harder. Eventually the heart weakens, leading to heart failure. This potentially deadly condition can be treated but not cured.

Dr. Sebastien Bonnet, a professor at Laval University and a researcher at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Quebec, discovered what he calls “an early warning system in a protein called PIM-1.” Bonnet told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010 that the PIM-1 cells can be used as markers of pulmonary hypertension.

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Bonnet found that blood samples taken from patients to measure PIM-1 revealed that the higher the PIM-1 levels, the more severe the pulmonary hypertension in patients. Therefore, “if there is a slight increase in PIM-1, we will know that something is going on,” he said.

Discovery of PIM-1 and elevated levels in people with pulmonary hypertension is important because the condition is often under diagnosed and not identified until the late stages. Early diagnosis is critical for treatment to be beneficial, while the prognosis for late stage disease is very poor.

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