by Dan Roberts
Researchers at the University of Sydney have found that people suffering from AMD have twice the risk of dying from heart attack or stroke. 3,654 people aged 49 years old and older, were studied. Five years later, 2,335 people were re-examined, and after 10 years, 1,952 were re-examined.
When the study began, early AMD was linked with a doubling of their risk of dying from heart attack or stroke over the next 10 years. The risk increased fivefold in people with late-stage AMD, and their risk of dying from stroke increased 10 times.
A major reason for the association, according to experts, is probably increased vascular problems in aging adults caused by systemic inflammation. Recent studies have found genetic variances leading to excessive inflammation, which can cause cardiovascular disease and retinal dystrophy. At least three gene variances leading to inflammation have been found in people with AMD. These are C-reactive protein and LOC387115, plus a third gene variance causing overproduction of interleukin-8, an inflammatory cytokine also associated with cardiovascular disease.
As a result of these and similar studies, genetic screening may eventually lead to development of medications to treat the dry form of AMD.
Sources: Paul Mitchell, M.D., Centre for Vision Research, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Sydney, Australia; Gregg C. Fonarow, M.D., professor, cardiology, University of California, Los Angeles; Feb. 28, 2008, British Journal of Ophthalmology.