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Longer Telomeres Linked to Better Cardiac Function, Decreased Heart Failure Risk

Longer leukocyte telomeres are linked to better cardiac function and decreased risk of heart failure, according to a study appearing in JAMA Cardiology. Leukocyte telomere length reflects cellular age though also varies between people, and previous studies have indicated that shorter leukocyte telomeres are associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease, but the link to heart failure has been less clear. In their new study, researchers from the University of Leicester and elsewhere examined leukocyte telomere length among more than 40,000 individuals in the UK Biobank who had undergone cardiovascular magnetic resonance scanning in addition to providing genetic samples. They found that longer telomeres were associated with higher left ventricular mass, larger global ventricular size and volume, and higher ventricular and atrial stroke volumes as well as with a lower risk of heart failure, even after taking traditional risk factors into consideration. Further, a Mendelian randomization analysis indicated there was a causal association between leukocyte telomere length and some of those measures of cardiac structure and function. "Further investigations into the prognostic relevance of LTL in adverse cardiac remodeling and the related mechanistic pathways could provide insights into the novel risk stratification approaches and therapeutic targets for [heart failure]," the researchers write.