One of the most common signs of cardiovascular disease can also detect cancer, found a new study.
Microvascular endothelial dysfunction, a common early sign of cardiovascular disease, maybe a useful marker for predicting risk of solid-tumour cancer, the finding was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Researchers in the study involved 488 cardiac patients whose cases were followed for up to 12 years.
“The study demonstrated that non-invasive vascular function assessment may predict the future development of cancer,” said senior author Dr. Amir Lerman, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and director of cardiovascular research at Mayo Clinic.
Microvascular endothelial dysfunction involves damage to the walls of small arteries in the heart, which affects their ability to expand and limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood.
Hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes are among the causes, and symptoms of dysfunction include chest pain. The condition is treatable but difficult to detect.
The study reviewed the cases of 488 patients who underwent microvascular endothelial function assessment at Mayo Clinic between 2006 and 2014.
The noninvasive procedure, called reactive hyperemia peripheral arterial tonometry, measures blood flow to the fingers during blood pressure inflation and release.
Dysfunction was defined as a tonometry index at or below 2, and the median follow-up period was six years. Of 221 patients identified as having dysfunction, 9.5 per cent were diagnosed with solid-tumour cancer during the follow-up period.
The findings were consistent after adjusting for age, gender, coronary artery disease and other factors.
Moreover, the association between the sign and cancer was independent but more prominent among men and in patients with factors such as hypertension, significant coronary artery disease, smoking and obesity.
“This risk prediction appears to precede the development of the disease by more than five years,” Dr. Lerman said.
Patients with microvascular endothelial dysfunction tend to have other health issues, as well, and that may have drawn more medical attention to these patients, resulting in higher levels of incidental detection of cancer, according to the study.