UF researchers studied 150 women whose symptoms were so frequent and severe they were referred for heart catheterization. This procedure involves placing a catheter into the heart's vessels to check for blockages or anatomic abnormalities that indicate heart disease. The women were participating in the $7 million federally funded Women's Ischemic Syndrome Evaluation study, known as WISE. The multicenter trial includes collaborators from the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Alabama, the Allegheny Health Science Center and the National Institutes of Health.
During the catheterization procedure, researchers took an added step: They infused a hormone called acetylcholine through a small catheter placed in a coronary artery. Normally, the coronary vessels dilate in response to acetylcholine. A vessel that responds abnormally to acetylcholine fails to enlarge or actually constricts and is considered dysfunctional. This reaction alone is a predictor of worse cardiovascular outcomes, including death, Pauly said.
Researchers suspected that some women with dysfunctional arteries might have a genetic variation that plays a role in the abnormal response to certain naturally occurring hormones, regardless of whether they had severe obstructions characteristic of heart disease -- or none at
all. (In fact, 63 women had no visual evidence of heart disease at all, while 55 had only mild disease.) So the researchers drew blood samples, isolated genetic material from white blood cells and analyzed the specific sequence of DNA that codes for one site where the hormone
angiotensin acts. This hormone is important for vascular to
Contact: Melanie Fridl Ross
University of Florida