Thursday, April 18, 2013

More research needed into hair test for heart disease (UK)

More research needed into hair test for heart disease (UK)Measuring hair for a hormone produced by stress could help identify people at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, say scientists. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the body during periods of stress. Researchers looked at the cortisol levels in the hair of older people. They found that the people who had higher long-term levels of the hormone were more likely to have cardiovascular disease. While cortisol levels can be measured by blood tests, these only provide a ‘snapshot’ of levels at a moment in time. By testing hair, scientists were able to see a person’s cortisol levels over the course of several months. British Heart Foundation Senior Cardiac Nurse Maureen Talbot said: "Long-term stress can be a trigger for habits, such as smoking, drinking alcohol to excess and overeating, that can increase our risk of heart disease. "A test that can confirm a sustained increase in cortisol levels could help be a useful way of assessing a person’s cardiovascular risk. "While this study demonstrates a link between raised cortisol levels and cardiovascular disease, the elderly population they studied may already have other risk factors for heart disease too. "Larger studies are required before such a test can be confirmed as a predictor for cardiovascular disease. In the meantime we should all focus on how we handle extra or sustained stress in our lives. A healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and taking time to relax can all help." The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

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