Why Aging Hearts Slow Down

Study finds protein linked to pumping decline

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SATURDAY, Oct. 4, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Elevated levels of a heart protein called G-alpha-i in older adults are linked to a decrease in the pumping ability of the heart.

So says a Duke University Medical Center study in the Oct. 4 issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology.

The study provides researchers with a better understanding of why the heart's pumping ability declines as people age and suggests there may be a way to use drugs to treat this age-related decrease.

The Duke team notes patients with congestive heart failure also have elevated levels of the G-alpha-i protein. It's known that a class of drugs called beta blockers can help improve the symptoms of congestive heart failure. These drugs also reduce levels of the G-alpha-i protein.

This leads the researchers to believe that beta-blocker drugs offer potential to slow the natural decline of the aging heart in older healthy people.

"The results of our study suggest that the dampening of G-alpha-i activity in the human heart may improve the age-induced decreases in cardiac function," principal investigator and pharmocologist Madan Kwatra says in a news release.

"From what we know now, it would seem logical to consider the use of beta blockers in a preventative role. More research, however, is needed to prove this hypothesis," Kwatra says.

More information

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SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Oct. 4, 2003

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