UConn cardiologists uncover new heart attack warning sign

Cardiologists at the University of Connecticut Health Center have identified a protein fragment that when detected in the blood can be a predictor of heart attack.

Their research, led by Dr. Bruce Liang, director of the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center, is published in the Jan. 11 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. It found heart attack patients had elevated levels of the protein fragment known as Caspase-3 p17 in their blood.

“We’ve discovered a new biomarker for heart attack, and showed that apoptosis, or a particular kind of cell death, is a cause of heart muscle damage.” Liang says. “The ability to see a heart attack coming with a simple blood test and to develop new therapies to block apoptosis would enable us to get a head start on treatment and preserve crucial heart muscle and cardiac function.”

If it is successfully applied one day, researchers say the discovery would mean another way to diagnose heart attack and the possible development of new treatment.

The article is available online at http://content.onlinejacc.org/cgi/reprint/57/2/220.pdf.

Co-investigators include Drs. Mariela Agosto, Michael Azrin and Kanwar Singh from the UConn Health Center and Dr. Allan Jaffe from the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical School, Rochester, Minn.

The University of Connecticut Health Center includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Founded in 1961, the Health Center pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about the UConn Health Center is available at www.uchc.edu.

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