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Protein that regulates blood pressure predicts heart risks

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Plasma renin activity

A protein in the blood could measure the chances of dying from heart disease

Researchers say monitoring a blood protein that regulates blood pressure could provide clues about who is at risk of dying from heart disease. In a study led by St. Michael's Hospital's cardiovascular surgeon Subodh Verma, measuring plasma renin activity (PRA), was linked to a higher chance of having a stroke or heart attack.

Verma says it's hard to get clues about a person's risk for heart disease. Measuring the protein in the blood could tell clinicians who is at higher risk and may open the doors for interventions that can lower plasma renin levels.

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The findings are published in the European Heart Journal that looked at 2,913 patients who were part of the Canadian HOPE (Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation) study. The patients in the study had stable vascular disease or diabetes with one risk factor for heart disease. Measuring renin activity gave a more compete picture of who was more likely to have a major cardiovascular event.

"This study makes a strong case for further study of PRA and its association with cardiovascular death," explains Dr. Verma. "The next step will be to move into larger trials with PRA therapies and study whether or not this impacts the cardiovascular death rate. This could be a big step forward in our battle against heart disease."

The researchers followed the patients an average of 4.5 years. They found those with the lowest blood protein levels or renin were less likely to have a stroke, heart attack or die from cardiovascular disease, even after adjusting for medical therapy and results of C-reactive protein that is a marker for inflammation in the body. The finding suggests monitoring the protein renin in the blood that regulates blood pressure could help physicians predict who is at higher risk for experiencing a heart or vascular related event.

Eur Heart J (2011)
doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehr066
"Plasma renin activity predicts cardiovascular mortality in the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE) study"
Subodh Verma, Milan Gupta, Daniel T. Holmes, Liqin Xu, Hwee Teoh, Sunayna Gupta, Salim Yusuf and Eva M. Lonn