NHLBI IN THE PRESS

Distinct lipid biomarkers called key to cardiac repair differences in blacks and whites after heart attack

Researchers are reporting that a group of lipid biomarkers are key to explaining the cardiac repair differences between black and white patients following a heart attack. A better understanding of these biomarkers could lead to more personalized treatments for heart failure and help reduce health disparities, they said.

Researchers have known for some time that black patients tend have a disproportionately higher rate of heart attacks, rehospitalization, and death caused by heart disease when compared to whites. The underlying physiology accounting for these worse cardiovascular outcomes is poorly understood. Researchers suspect that differences in blood lipids may play a role.

For the study, the researchers collected plasma from a group of hospitalized patients, including 22 black patients (15 male and 7 female) and 31 white patients (23 male and 8 female) within 24 to 48 hours after they experienced a severe heart attack. They then analyzed plasma levels of three essential polyunsaturated fatty acids: arachidonic acid (AA),  docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). They also analyzed 40 related lipid metabolites.

The researchers found that black patients tended to have higher concentrations of the three fatty acids than the white patients. In addition, they found that blacks had significantly lower levels of resolvin E1, a potent mediator of inflammation, than whites. They concluded that these lipid biomarkers are key for improving the diagnosis and treatment of cardiac repair after heart attack. The study, partly funded by NHLBI, was published in ESC Heart Failure.