Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins (Ig), refer to a type of protein produced by plasma cells. Your immune system utilizes these to combat potentially dangerous foreign bodies.
Researchers belonging to the Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden, performed a research on these antibodies. They found that certain antibodies associated with rheumatic diseases are also present in people who just suffered from a heart attack.
These antibodies are the anti-phospholipid antibodies (aPLs). These refer to the abnormal antibodies that may react to certain types of tissues produced by the body. The examples of these tissues include beta-2-glycoprotein-1 (a plasma protein), or cardiolipin, a lipoprotein.
The scientists noted that aPLs normally appear in reference to rheumatic diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus.
The presence of these antibodies in a person indicates a higher risk of blood clots. This particularly happens in antiphospholipid syndrome, an autoimmune problem in which your body produces excessive aPLs.
Antibodies are Present at High Concentrations
The findings of this recent studies are present in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The authors noted that aPL is present in the bodies of most of the individuals who suffered from a heart attack.
The scientists also reported that it has not been clear how common aPLs are in such people. This is mostly because the scientists conducted all previous studies at small scales. So no appropriate data existed as such.
For this new study, the investigators worked with almost 800 people. These people were hospitalized in 17 different Swedish hospitals after suffering from a heart attack. Note that this was the first episode of heart attack that these people encountered.
In order to compare the data, the scientists made sure to recruit an equal number of healthy people. These people served as the control group.
The researchers investigated by collecting blood samples from the first groups. The first sample withdrawal took place at 6th week after the attack. The second one took place after 10 weeks.
The scientists particularly looked for three different types of aPLs: immunoglobulin A, M, and G.
After investigating the data, the scientists found that 11 percent of the participants reacted to beta-2-glycoprotein and cardiolipin both.
This ratio was ten times more than the people present in the control group.
The study author said that he had always known how antibodies are more common than one thinks. Now, they have been able to analyze them in a large patient group.
Changing Prevailing Guidelines
According to the researchers, it was surprising to find high levels of these antibodies in the majority of patients. The volunteers, in particular, had great levels of IgG antibodies. Such antibodies are mostly in relation with an increased risk of blood clots.
However, the researchers admit the limitations of this study. They admit that they only collected one set of the blood sample. This may not properly reflect the levels of aPL over time. It may also be the one-off reaction of your body to a heart attack.
Even in this case, their levels of aPL must remain high for 3 months. This means that the participants having APL will be at a higher risk of developing blood clots.
In such a case, it is important to prescribe these patients with an anticoagulant warfarin. The lifelong treatment with this agent can reduce the risk of developing new clots.
This study is set to change the existing guidelines for the investigations and treatments for heart attack.