DNA in the blood can help diagnose heart disease
In a new study promoted by the American Heart Association, researchers suggest that doctors can use the presence of DNA particles in the blood to quickly determine if a person's chest pain is the product of coronary heart disease or something else. Higher levels of DNA in the blood were linked to high levels of coronary artery deposits, which cause a narrowing of the heart arteries. The scientists said the DNA particles may act as markers of the disease and could eventually help predict the effects of the condition, including serious heart problems or heart-related death.
The study, conducted by researchers from the Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School analyzed 282 patients, aged 34 to 83. Each of the study subjects had reported chest pain and were suspected of having coronary heart disease. The scientists used computer tomography imaging to look for hardened buildup in the coronary blood vessels, and also tested blood samples for bits of genetic material. DNA can get into the bloodstream as a result of chronic inflammatory conditions, including coronary artery disease. The results of the study indicated that higher levels of DNA in the blood can be linked to higher levels of calcium deposits.
While it is possible that the DNA itself is a cause of heart disease, the researchers suggest that inflammation results in increased cell death, which causes the DNA to be released into the blood. This also contributes to calcium buildup in the arteries, causing them to narrow.