At the same time, physicians at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute created the Intermountain Heart Study Registry, which includes blood samples from a massive number of heart patients for research. Today the registry contains more than 30,000 DNA samples.
Galenko and her team looked at samples in the registry from 30 patients who had suffered a heart attack within 44 days of having their blood collected.
Researchers examined factors such as age, gender, race, elevated amounts of or cholesterol in the bloodstream, high blood pressure, and diabetes. They noticed that within two weeks of experiencing a heart attack, patient's microRNA 122 and 126 dramatically dropped.
The result: Galenko believes that something about these microRNAs being present and interrupting the translation process prevents people with heart disease from having a heart attack.
"MicroRNAs turn things off. Whatever they usually turn off in people with heart disease before a heart attack isn't being turned off when microRNA levels are reduced, which may be causing something else to be activated," she says. "MicroRNAs act like a watch dog, and when their levels are reduced, heart disease takes a turn for the worse and heart attacks are likely to occur."
Further research is needed to find out more about what takes place when the microRNAs disappear, says Galenko.
"We need to do additional research with more samples, but we've found a pattern that may help us understand the factors that lead to a heart attack, and we've developed a lot more questions that further research will help answer," she says.
"Ultimately, our goal is to develop a test that predicts when a heart attack is going to occur in patients with heart disease," Galenko adds. "This would help physicians intervene proactively and stop heart attacks from happeni
|Contact: Jess C. Gomez|
Intermountain Medical Center