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Eur Heart J. 2007 Jan;28(2):172-6. Epub 2007 Jan 10.

Telomere length is associated with left ventricular function in the oldest old: the Newcastle 85+ study.

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Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, and Department of Cardiology, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.



Heart failure is a condition increasingly prevalent at older ages; however, mechanisms by which the ageing process affects cardiac function are largely unknown. Telomere length is a biomarker of ageing that has been suggested to be associated with a variety of diseases of late onset, but its relationship with cardiac function has not previously been studied. We measured telomere length in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and carried out echocardiography in a group of 85-year old subjects recruited from the community as part of the Newcastle 85+ Study.


Eighty-nine subjects were recruited through local family practitioners. They were visited in their homes for clinical assessment and echocardiography, which was performed using a handheld device. Telomere length was measured by a real-time PCR method. High sensitivity C-reactive protein was measured using ELISA. Echocardiographic M-mode ejection fraction (EF) was strongly associated with telomere length (P=0.006) in subjects without evidence of previous MI. Sex and telomere length were significant predictors of EF while current smoking, blood pressure, plasma high sensitivity C-reactive protein, and use of cardiovascular medications were not. One standard deviation longer telomeres were associated with a 5% higher EF. Telomere length accounted for 12% of the observed variability in EF.


These data show influences of the ageing process on myocardial function in the oldest old, apparently independent of other specific disease processes. This may be of importance in the aetiology of heart failure in this age group.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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