Accurate assessment of cardiovascular risk is vital given that cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death globally.
Current factors considered include age, sex, smoking history, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, but new research indicates that a more accurate indicator may be changes to the blood vessels in the back of the eye.
In the largest study of its kind, a research team analysed retinal blood vessel images from 55,000 middle-aged and elderly people from the UK biobank study.
Their analysis linked greater curvature of the retinal arteries to higher pulse pressure, systolic pressure and average artery pressure during heartbeat. It also linked narrowing of the retinal blood vessels to greater stiffness in artery walls and higher mean arterial pressure.
According to lead author professor Alicia Rudnicka from London’s St. George’s University, these retinal effects “could potentially tell us very quickly whether you are on the road to cardiovascular disease.”
The team’s next study aims to determine whether these measurements can predict heart disease in the same person a decade later.
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Source: Medical News Today