Sunday news tips

November 14, 2010

9:30 a.m. Abstract 14027/P2049 - Cholesterol deposits on eyelids predict higher risk of heart attack, artery disease and death

Cholesterol deposits on eyelids, "xanthelasmata," predict risk for heart attack, artery disease and early death, a Danish study found.

Because half of the people with the deposits have normal blood cholesterol levels, scientists said the lesions may be an important independent marker of underlying artery disease.

Copenhagen researchers established the presence or absence of xanthelasmata at baseline in 12,939 people. Of these, 1,903 developed heart attacks, 3,761 developed ischemic heart disease and 8,663 died during up to 33 years of follow-up. Cumulative incidence of ischemic heart disease and heart attack as a function of age increased in those with xanthelasmata, and the proportion surviving decreased.

Xanthelasmata predicted 51 percent increased risk of heart attack and 40 percent increased risk of ischemic heart disease. Those with xanthelasmata also had a 17 percent increased risk of death after adjustments for well-known cardiovascular risk factors including blood cholesterol levels.

The results suggest that other factors besides cholesterol levels -- including capillary leakage, characteristics of macrophages or intercellular matrix components -- "may predispose certain individuals to both xanthelasmata and to atherosclerotic disease and early death," researchers said.

"In societies where other cardiovascular disease risk factors can't be readily measured, presence of xanthelasmata may be a useful predictor of underlying atherosclerotic disease," researchers said.

Mette Christoffersen, M.Sc., Copenhagen University Hospital and University of Copenhagen, Denmark; (011) 45 3545 3433;

9:30 a.m. Abstract 13072/P2045 - Women's stroke risk may rise with more -- not less -- sleep

Previous research has suggested a link between shorter sleep duration and higher risk of disease. But a surprising new finding suggests that women who slept for 10 hours or more had a 63 percent increased risk of stroke compared to those who slept seven hours per night.

The risk estimates dropped to 55 percent when researchers controlled for body mass index, hypertension and history of diabetes. The results for ischemic stroke were similar, although the power of the study to detect differences was limited for 10 or more hours of sleep, researchers said.

Beginning in 1986, 69,794 women without a history of stroke reported their sleep duration. During 20 years of follow-up, 2,303 cases of stroke were recorded. Median sleep duration was seven hours.

Researchers found the risk of stroke was lowest among women reporting seven hours of sleep per night. Those reporting sleep duration of six hours or less five hours per night were not at increased risk of stroke after adjustment for multiple confounders including lifestyle factors and depression.

Alan Flint, M.D., Dr.PH., Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass.; (617) 432-4508;

3 p.m. Abstract 17034/P2024 - Web-based program increases activity, improves quality of life

A national Web-based intervention program increased physical activity and improved quality of life for female participants.

The 3,796 women in the American Heart Association's national 12-week Choose To Move program were provided weekly activity modules and requested to complete surveys on activity, quality of life and readiness for activity. Researchers evaluated 892 women who completed the program. They found the women: Increasing the use of the simple Web-based tool could also promote disease prevention, the researchers said. Samia Mora, M.D., Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Mass.; (617) 233-1023;

Editor's Notes:

The American Heart Association's Start! initiative encourages all Americans to participate in regular physical activity. Start! created personalized walking plans for people at any fitness level. Visit to download the Start! Walking Plans and locate Start! Walking Paths near you.

Take action and find fun ways to get physically active with steps that encourage incremental, achievable change for a healthy lifestyle. For more information, visit

3:45 p.m. Abstract 20013 - Gene appears to regulate obesity in men and mice

Obesity, a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, has a significant genetic component. But scientists have found few genes that contribute to the risk of obesity.

Now, a genome-wide linkage scan for high body mass index (BMI) in 3,893 men and 4,445 women has identified a link on chromosome 5q13-15. Analysis of this chromosome revealed a rare cluster of gene types linked to high BMI in men but not women. The portion of the chromosome related to high BMI risk contains a single gene named "arrestin domain containing 3" (Arrdc3).

Researchers investigated Arrdc3 expression and detected it in human fat and muscle. Analysis of gene expression in human abdominal fat biopsies showed significant correlation of Arrdc3 messenger RNA with BMI in men but not women, supporting the male-specific linkage to obesity. The study also found that fasting increased Arrdc3 expression in both human and mouse fat tissue, suggesting that Arrdc3 functions to conserve energy when food is not available.

To test whether the gene causally regulates obesity, the scientist generated a mouse without Arrdc3. The mice without Arrdc3 showed a "striking resistance" to age-induced obesity: Male mice without Arrdc3 had a smaller total body mass compared to mice with the gene. And consistent with human data, loss of Arrdc3 had less effect on female mice. The Arrdc3-null mice were also resistant to metabolic complications of obesity -- having a strong response to insulin, faster clearance of glucose and lower lipids.

"These results implicate a novel family of arrestins in the control of metabolism and development of obesity," researchers said.

Parth Patwari, M.D., Sc.D., Brigham and Women's Hospital, Cambridge, Mass.; (617) 768-8246;
Author disclosures are available on the abstracts.Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at

NR10-1140 (SS10/Sunday News Tips)

Additional resources:

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