Individuals who have low levels of a particular type of naturally occurring antibodies, anti-PC, are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, a team of researchers from Karolinska Institutet and Lund University has found.
Writing about their findings in the journal Atherosclerosis, the group has revealed that the risk is particularly high in men who develop stroke, with an almost fourfold increase.
The researchers say that the newly discovered risk factor is independent of previously known risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high blood lipids, diabetes, and smoking.
"Our findings suggest that anti-PC can be used as a complement to the traditional risk factors to improve diagnosis and treatment. In addition we are currently developing anti-PC as a vaccine for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease," says Professor Johan Frostegard, who directed the study.
The study is based on data from 349 people who at some time over a 12-year period have suffered a heart attack or stroke, and 693 individuals without symptoms of cardiovascular disease.