Researchers at the University of California found a new way to predict which patients with "stable" heart failure or those who have heart injury but do not require hospitalization â have a higher risk of dying within one to three years.
Among them some have rapid disease progression while others remain stable. For their study, the researchers analyzed blood from 105 patients with stable heart failure, searching for a distinct biomarker in the blood that could predict how likely a person would be to die within a few years.
Neuropeptide Y level
They found that neuropeptide Y levels were the clearest and most significant predictor. Here, the research found out that "patients who have higher levels of neuropeptide Y, a molecule released by the nervous system, are 10 times more likely to die within one to three years than those with lower levels of neuropeptides," wrote authors of the study -- Dr Olujimi Ajijola, a cardiologist at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and Dr. Jagmeet Singh, cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University.
The study, published in JAMA Cardiology, enables scientists to distinguish very-high-risk patients with stable heart failure from others with the same condition, which require more aggressive and targeted therapies. The study also highlights the need for heart failure therapies now targeting the nervous system.
Biomarker of nervous system
Usually, about half of people who develop heart failure die within five years of their diagnosis, as per the American Heart Association figures but it remained uncertain why some live longer than others despite same medication and therapy. The researchers explored whether a biomarker of the nervous system could help explain the difference. They have compared nerve tissue samples from patients with samples from healthy donors and found that the neurons in those at high risk for dying from heart failure were releasing higher levels of neuropeptides.
Further studies could help determine whether a patient's risk for death can be ascertained through less invasive measures, such as a simple blood draw, and whether early aggressive intervention in these people could reduce their risk of death.