Doctors consider a variety of factors to determine the likelihood that a person may experience cardiovascular events, including age, history of smoking, and blood pressure. Yet changes in the blood vessels in the back of the eye may make a prediction more accurate.
New research shows that the key to cardiovascular health may be in the eyes.
They say the eyes are the soul window, But they may also be the gateway to the soul, according to a team of researchers. A previous study has identified a link between changes in the eye and adult hypertension and related changes in the retinal and high blood pressure in children.
Dr. Henner Hanssen, University of Basel, Switzerland, Professor of Preventive Sports Medicine and Systems Physiology, says. “The data that we have is very clear that at a very early age, in children 6 to 8 years old who are otherwise healthy, you can already see vascular alterations due to blood pressure levels that are on the high end of normal,” “We don’t know if this predicts worse outcomes when they become adults, but we have seen similar alterations in adults that are predictive of cardiovascular mortality and morbidity,” he adds.
This study is the widest to look at the eye-to-cardiovascular disease relationship and has provided the most reliable measurements. It appears in the hypertension journal of the American Heart Association.
The study found that artery stiffness and increased blood pressure damaged small blood vessels at the back of the eye.
As lead author professor Alicia Rudnicka from St. George’s University in London in the United Kingdom explains: “If what’s happening in the rest of the body is reflected in what’s happening at the back of the eye, what we see there could be a flag, taking retinal morphology assessment from being just a research tool to incorporating it into clinical practice.”
The data set for the new research was developed by approximately 55,000 elderly and middle-aged people from the UK Biobank report, and the team had access to 3.5 million blood vessel sections in total.
An automated program analyzed digital images of the retinal blood vessels of each participant providing measurements of the diameter and curvature of the blood vessel to the team.
Examination of these found that greater retinal artery curvature equated with higher pulse pressure higher average artery pressure throughout a heartbeat, and higher systolic blood pressure, which is the pressure which happens when the heart contracts.
It wasn’t the only result. The researchers also noticed a correlation between greater artery walls stiffness, higher mean arterial pressure, and retinal blood vessel narrowing.
None of these retinal effects impact a person’s vision, but they “could potentially tell us very quickly whether you are on the road to cardiovascular disease,” Prof. Rudnicka said. “What we have now is one piece of the puzzle,” she continues.
The next research by the team aims to determine if these measures could predict heart disease a decade later in the same person.
The world’s leading cause of deathTrusted Source is cardiovascular disease. Researchers currently estimate the risk factor of a person using a variety of factors, including age, gender, cholesterol levels in the blood, and blood pressure. The future study results of Prof. Rudnicka might determine if the eye is part of that list.


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