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Cleveland Clinic-Led Research Uncovers New Mechanism That Heightens Risk of Heart Disease
Date:9/10/2007

Findings Appear in Sept. 9 Issue of the Journal Nature Medicine

CLEVELAND, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Heart disease often hits with devastating effects in people with normal cholesterol levels, yet seemingly misses striking others who smoke, or have multiple risk factors. A new research discovery may help explain why one person suffers a heart attack and yet another doesn't.

Researchers at Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute have discovered a mechanism that contributes to the hardening of arteries and could explain why some individuals are at greater risk of developing heart disease than others.

In a study published in the Sept. 9 issue of the journal Nature Medicine, researchers identify a mechanism that is found in high-risk populations, including smokers and individuals with chronic kidney disease, as well as the general population, which heightens an individual's risk of developing heart disease. The researchers found that proteins in the bloodstream, when damaged by a process called carbamylation, change the way cells behave, promoting the accumulation of harmful substances in the arteries and raising the risk of heart disease.

"This is a breakthrough in explaining why some populations are at greater risk for developing heart disease," said the study's lead author, Stanley Hazen, M.D., Ph.D., Section Head of Preventive Cardiology at Cleveland Clinic and a researcher in the Lerner Research Institute. "To date, we have focused on cholesterol as the central linchpin of how cardiovascular disease occurs. However, the presence of heart disease in many high-risk groups has not been adequately explained by traditional risk factors, including elevated cholesterol levels. This study highlights a new mechanism that augments an individual's risk of heart disease."

Researchers began their work trying to understand why smokers are at increased risk for developing heart disease. In a study of 1000 patients and additional cell an
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