Eye Disease May Double Heart Risk

Armen Hareyan's picture

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that mostly affects elderly, may double risk for heart disease and stroke.

University of Sydney suggested a study linking AMD to cardiovascular diseases. AMD is a condition affecting he centre of retina (macula). Retina is a back part of eye responsible for central vision tasks, such as driving, reading. The disease affects elderly causing blindness.

The research studied 3600 people who were 49. They were monitored for decades. 2335 of them were screened 5 years later from the start of the study, 1952 of them were screened twice - 5 years later and 10 years later. Those under 75 with early AMD appeared to have doubled risk of dying from heart attack and stroke. Whose with late stages of AMD had 5 times higher risk of dying from heart attack and 10 times higher risk of stroke.


Researchers are not yet able to suggest the mechanism of how AMD affects cardiovascular events, but there some opinions:

* There is now actual link between the diseases, it is just a sign of aging body. Both diseases appear mainly in elderly an are not associated with each other.

* Both disease may be caused by the same problems, such as 'inflammation, thickening of the arteries or general tissue damage'. This is why the disease appear simultaneously.

* AMD drugs called anti-VEGF drugs may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. These drugs prevent the growth of new blood vessels, which may cause cardiovascular diseases. However, the link between cardiovascular events and growth of new blood vessels is not clear yet.

Scientists urge for more detailed studies to find out if there is an actual link between eye disease and cardiovascular diseases. Meanwhile, those taking anti-VEGF drugs are advised to be carefully screened by GPs before prescribing drugs and monitored while taking the drug.