View Full Version : Shorter telomeres correlate with a higher risk of heart attack

02-21-2012, 03:02 PM
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Fight Aging! Newsletter

Average telomere length in at least some tissues makes a good marker
for general health, but the progressive shortening of telomeres may or
may not be a root cause of aging. Telomere length results from a
dynamic system of lengthening and shortening processes, which seems
more likely to be a reflection of underlying function and dysfunction:
"In an ongoing study of almost 20,000 Danes, a team of researchers
[have] isolated each individual's DNA to analyse their specific
telomere length - a measurement of cellular aging. ... The risk of
heart attack or early death is present whether your telomeres are
shortened due to lifestyle or due to high age ... The recent
Copenhagen General Population Study involved almost 20,000 people,
some of which were followed during almost 19 years, and the conclusion
was clear: If the telomere length was short, the risk of heart attack
and early death was increased by 50 and 25 per cent, respectively. ...
That smoking and obesity increases the risk of heart disease has been
known for a while. We have now shown, as has been speculated, that the
increased risk is directly related to the shortening of the protective
telomeres - so you can say that smoking and obesity ages the body on a
cellular level, just as surely as the passing of time. ... one in four
Danes has telomeres with such short length that not only will they
statistically die before their time, but their risk of heart attack is
also increased by almost 50 per cent. Future studies will have to
reveal the actual molecular mechanism by which the short telomere
length causes heart attacks. Does one cause the other or is the
telomere length and the coronary event both indicative of a third -
yet unknown - mechanism?" I lean towards the latter hypothesis, that
both risk of catastrophic failure in bodily systems and telomere
length reflect levels of accumulated damage at the level of cells and
macromolecules in the body.