Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City have identified a biological process that may help physicians predict when someone with heart disease is likely to have a heart attack in the near future.
A new study by the team has identified plasma levels of two markers microRNA 122 and 126 that appear to decline a few days before a person suffers a heart attack. Results of the study could help the 715,000 Americans who suffer from heart attacks each year.
"It's always been a mystery trying to identify people with heart disease who are at imminent risk of having a heart attack," says Oxana Galenko, DBMSC, with the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, who is the lead researcher in the study. "Currently, there's no blood test that allows us to say, 'yes, this person will likely have a heart attack in the near future'. But identifying what happens to these markers has given us a place to start."
Researchers will present results of the study at the 2014 American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions in Washington, DC, on Sunday, March 30 at 3:45 p.m. EDT.
During a heart attack, one of the coronary arteries that feed blood into the heart becomes completely blocked, preventing necessary oxygen and nourishment from reaching the heart muscle. When this happens, the heart muscle dies and never recovers resulting in heart failure or death.
The discovery of the diminishing microRNA markers began with the understanding of a basic process in biology known as the central dogma. DNA contains the genetic information an organism uses to grow and develop. Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) communicates this information to the rest of the body and translates the genetic information into protein. This is known as gene expression.
In 1993 scientists discovered small forms of RNA didn't follow standard translation patterns. These forms, known as
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