RESEARCHERS have discovered a link between higher levels of certain antibodies and a lower risk of heart attack excluding other risk factors, in patients with high blood pressure.
The research team discovered that higher levels of immunoglobulin (Ig)G antibodies in the blood were linked with a reduction in the likelihood of a heart attack. Therefore, the results of the study indicate a lower risk of heart attack when the immune system is more robust.
Dr Khamis and colleagues assessed patients participating in the Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial (ASCOT): a study which employed over 19,000 patients from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Nordic regions with high blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular event, alongside matched controls. The team analysed the blood levels of total IgG and the antibody IgM. The blood levels of antibodies against oxidised low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL), an oxidised form of cholesterol that is known to promote atherosclerosis, were also measured.
The results showed a lower risk of heart attack for participants with higher levels of the antibodies, including the anti-oxLDL antibodies. The strongest link to this risk reduction was higher levels of IgG, regardless of further risk factors including blood pressure and cholesterol.
The lead investigator, Dr Ramzi Khamis, National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, UK, states that the research is important as: “Linking a stronger, more robust immune system to protection from heart attacks is a really exciting finding. As well as improving the way we tell who is at the highest risk of a heart attack so that we can give them appropriate treatments, we now have a new avenue to follow in future work.”
After focussing on people with high blood pressure, the team now plan to determine whether the link can be found in other groups exposed to a risk of heart attack. “We hope that we can use this new finding to study the factors that lead some people to have an immune system that helps protect from heart attacks, while others don’t. We also hope to explore ways of strengthening the immune system to aid in protecting from heart disease,” explained Dr Khamis.