A study by British Heart Foundation (BHF) suggested that people with advanced heart disease have arteries that are biologically 40 years older than their real age.
In a study conducted by researchers from Cambridge University, they examined tissues from heart bypass and transplant patients to study how artery cells age.
They found that the artery cells divide seven to 13 times more rapidly than normal in a patient with heart disease leading to premature aging of the arteries. With aging, the arteries lose their ability to prevent fatty acid deposition leading to narrowing of arteries and heart attack. The researchers hoped that their findings would open up new avenues in research aimed at preventing heart attacks.
Professor of Cardiovascular Sciences, Professor Martin Bennett of the British Heart Foundation, who is one of the researchers involved in the study said, "In early stages of heart disease, the arteries are between five and 15 years older than the person's real age. If you have mild heart disease and can limit your risk factors by stopping smoking, controlling hypertension and diabetes, and taking statins to lower cholesterol, you will slow this ageing process. If you do nothing, the cells can reach extreme old age very prematurely - and once they do that, the process cannot be reversed."
The Medical Director of the BHF, Professor Peter Weissberg said, "This research suggests that if blood vessel cells could be prevented from ageing so quickly, then potentially heart attacks could be prevented. This opens up a new avenue of research aimed at preventing heart attacks."