OHSU Scientists Seek Older Women For Heart Disease Study

Scientists at the Knight Cancer Institute are looking for 10,000-15,000 older women from Oregon and Southwest Washington for a study on heart disease and blood cancer.

Over the last few years, it’s become clear that as people age, they accumulate mutations in their blood. It’s not surprising perhaps that those mutations can cause blood cancers. But what scientists are surprised by, is that those mutations look like they can also cause heart disease.

Assistant Professor of Medicine Kim-Hien Dao said now the two diseases appear to be linked, they want to know whether blood cancer drugs might benefit heart disease patients as well, “So we’re looking for women over 65 years without a history of invasive cancer. And they’re willing to provide their health history and provide a blood sample every one to two years.”

The study, which is also being conducted by Maros Ferencik at OHSU, is currently limited to women because it requires a special test for the presence of two X chromosomes. That enhances the detection of blood mutations. Scientists hope to identify a high risk population carrying these mutations and follow the group over time.

Heart disease is the nation’s leading cause of death among women — it’s responsible for about one in every three deaths.

Heart disease in women is often less recognized as compared to heart disease in men and is also often under treated. There are still genetic and lifestyle risk factors that scientists and doctors have not fully characterized.

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