Special age-related macular degeneration indicating heart disease
According to a recent study, some forms of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are closely linked to heart disease and stroke. In the event of corresponding visual disturbances, the ophthalmological examination must therefore be supplemented by a cardiological examination if necessary.
A research team led by Professor Dr. R. Theodore Smith of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital investigated whether there is a link between different forms of age-related macular degeneration and cardiovascular disease or stroke. The results were published in the journal Retina.
Common cause of blindness
Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of vision problems and blindness in people over 65. It's the result of damage to the central area of the retina, known as the macula, the research team explained.
The main form of early AMD is called drusen, which form as small yellow deposits of cholesterol in a layer under the retina. They can starve the retina of blood and oxygen, leading to vision loss, researchers report.
However, in some forms of early AMD, the drusen form in a different layer below the light-sensitive cells of the retina. According to experts, these subretinal drusen deposits are less well known and can only be recognized using high-tech retinal images.
Although the usual formation of drusen can be slowed down by an appropriate vitamin supplement, no therapeutic approach is known for the second form.
Analyzed cross-sectional images of the retina
In the current study, researchers examined 126 AMD patients using optical coherence tomography (OCT), an advanced imaging system that provides high-resolution cross-sectional images of the retina. Participants also answered questionnaires about their medical history, including heart disease and stroke.
Of the participants, 62 had subretinal drusen deposits and 64 common drusen. Cardiovascular disease or a previous stroke was experienced by 51 of 126 patients (40%), 66% of whom suffered from deposits in the subretinal glands.
In contrast, of the 75 patients with no known history of heart disease or stroke, relatively few (19%) had subretinal drusen deposits, the researchers report.
Statistical association with heart disease
Statistically, participants with cardiovascular disease or stroke were three times more likely to be affected by subretinal gland deposits than participants without these diseases.
"For the past three decades, researchers have suspected an association between AMD and cardiovascular disease, but until now there was no conclusive data," Professor Smith said.
"We found that only one form of AMD, the one with subretinal drusen deposits, is strongly associated with high-risk vascular disease, while the other form, known as drusen, does not. isn't," the study's author continued.
Researchers suspect the reason for the connection is impaired blood flow to the eye, which occurs in cardiovascular disease and leads to subretinal drusen deposits.
New biomarker for screening?
The results are of great importance for public health and could make screening for corresponding diseases much easier, adds Professor Dr. Jagat Narula of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
If an eye exam diagnoses the specific form of AMD with subretinal drusen deposits, people may have significant undetected heart disease or possibly a narrowing of the carotid artery that can lead to a stroke.
Researchers recommend that affected individuals be referred to a cardiologist at an early stage to improve standard treatment. If the study results are confirmed by further investigations, subretinal drusen deposits could also be used as a marker of risk.
"This study demonstrates that AMD is not a single or isolated disease, but often the signal of a systemic dysfunction that could benefit from a targeted medical evaluation in addition to local ocular treatment", summarizes Dr. Richard B. Rosen, director of the retina service at Mount Sinai Health System. (fp)
Author and source informationShow now
This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Sources:Mount Sinai School of Medicine: Blinding eye disease is strongly associated with heart disease and stroke (published 2022-07-12), mountsinai.org Robert J Thomson, Joshua Chazaro, Oscar Otero-Marquez, Gerardo Ledesma-Gil , Yuehong Tong, Arielle C. Coughlin, Zachary R Teibel, Sharmina Alauddin, Katy Tai, Harriet Lloyd, Maria Scolaro, Arun Govindaiah, Alauddin Bhuiyan, Mandip S Dhamoon, Avnish Deobhakta, Jagat Narula, Richard B Rosen, Lawrence A Yannuzzi, K Bailey Freund, R Theodore Smith: SUBRETINAL DRUSENoid DEPOSITS AND SOFT DRUSES - Are they markers of distinct retinal diseases? ; in: Retina (published 2022-07-01), lww.com
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.