Scientists say CHIP is the new heart attack and stroke risk in healthy people
There are a heart attack and stroke events in tens of thousands of people without any heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure or hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood sugar or glucose levels (type 2 diabetes T2D), smoking, heart diseases history and other risk factors. It is not known what causes these unexpected deaths from atherosclerosis or coronary heart diseases, (CHD) without any heart or cardiovascular diseases risk factor among healthy people.
Now, the scientists have accidentally found 40 to 50 percent enhanced death risks within 10 years from coronary heart disease or from any cause with an unusual accumulation of mutated stem cells in the bone marrow. Scientists were surprised with this phenomenon and named this as Clonal Haematopoiesis of Indeterminate Potential (CHIP).
CHIP phenomenon was known to other researchers previously while conducting research on other diseases. But they do not know that CHIP was linked to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).
The scientists say CHIP worsen health risks with age and increases heart attack and stroke risks substantially. About 20 percent of the individuals in their 60s and about 50 percent of the individuals in their 80s are being affected with CHIP. The heart disease risk associated with CHIP is equal to the risk associated with high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. This condition is common and acts independently. Scientists say this discovery is a very important development in the field of cardiology.
This unusual accumulation of mutated stem cells in bone marrow is not an inherited but an acquired condition. CHIP may be caused due to the exposure to toxins such as cigarette smoke. Currently, there are no medications or treatments to prevent this CHIP.
As cardiovascular diseases increase with the ageing process, CHIP explains why older or elder people are at higher risk to cardiovascular diseases, heart attack or stroke. But it is not known how mutated white blood cells causes cardiovascular diseases.
Heart disease risks with CHIP was first identified by Professor Benjamin Levine Ebert, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School (also Chair of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ). With the help of Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, Professor Benjamin Levine Ebert confirmed that CHIP causes double risk of heart diseases in a typical patient and four-fold enhanced risk to heart disease in younger people. Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, MD is a cardiologist at Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
Professor Benjamin Levine Ebert and Dr. Kenneth B. Walsh have conducted experiments on mice models, which are prone to atherosclerosis development, by giving CHIP mutated stem cells along with non-mutated stem cells. Their experiments show proliferation of mutated blood cells and enhanced inflammation causing more atherosclerosis in the arteries.
Earlier studies show plaque formed in the arteries is filled with white blood cells causing inflammation. Researchers think atherosclerosis may be caused due to mutated white cells. Over a period of time, atherosclerotic plaque can rupture and stop energy and oxygen-rich blood flow to the heart and causes a heart attack.
Scientists say there may be an association between CHIP with other inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, asthma, tuberculosis, periodontitis or sinusitis. But researchers say CHIP blood test, which costs about a few thousand dollars is not required as there is no drug or treatment to reduce the CHIP.
This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the United States. The study findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Title of the article was "Clonal Hematopoiesis and Risk of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease."
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Published by Jammi Vasista, Chennai, India.