Stronger immune system lowers heart attack risk

By Rebecca Burton • Published: September 14th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you have high blood pressure, you might be able to lower the risk of a heart attack by keeping your immune system in top condition.

That’s the primary finding by researchers from Imperial College in London, who analyzed cardiac outcome data from more than 19,000 patients in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Nordic countries who had a high risk of heart attack. The team measured blood levels of several antibodies, a measure of immune system strength. They analyzed how levels of these antibodies worked against the effects of LDL cholesterol, which is known to trigger heart problems. The findings were published recently in the journal EBioMedicine.

The findings showed that people with higher levels of a trio of antibodies had a lower risk of suffering a heart attack. Researchers said one of the antibodies, Immunoglobulin G, showed the strongest link to a lower heart attack risk. Because the study focused on high-risk patients, researchers now want to determine if the results hold true for other groups. The authors also noted that such immune system testing is easy and cost-effective, raising the possibility of a simpler way of determining heart attack risk.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming 610,000 lives each year and accounting for one of every four deaths.

So here’s the takeaway: Boosting the immune system could help you dodge a heart attack. Eat foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, exercise regularly and get an adequate amount of sleep. A robust immune system just might make for a healthier heart.