Pain in the chest, light-headedness, and difficulty in breathing are the common signs of heart disease. However, a new study has shown that some signs in the eyes might be an early indicator of the onset of heart issues. This study has been done by experts from UC San Diego Health. Experts have said that blood vessels in the eyes can reflect a lot about people’s heart health. The study has noted that reduced blood flow or other heart issues such as high blood pressure will lead to visible damage in the eye. It will help medical professionals to trace underlying health issues. The lead author of the study, Mathieu Bakhoum, who is a retina surgeon at UC San Diego Health, has said that eyes act like a window into our overall health and multiple health issues can manifest in the eyes. Keeping in mind that heart disease claims more lives in the US than any other disease every year, experts have from the Shiley Eye Institute a UC San Diego Health have conducted noninvasive eye tests to detect underlying heart issues. They have said that retinal ischemia might act as an early indicator of heart disease.
Experts have analyzed optical coherence tomography (OCT) to see where in the retina lesions have been occurring. The OCT creates the full image of the retina. Experts have said that the retina is the innermost, light-sensitive region of the eye. If anything out of ordinary happens here, there might be a cause of concern. The lead author of the study has said that ischemia is a condition of reduced blood flow, which is led by heart disease. It can result in reduced blood flow in the eyes as well. It can lead to the death of retinal cells, which can leave a permanent mark in the eyes. Experts have termed this mark as retinal ischemic perivascular lesions (RIPLs). The authors of the study have said that the finding of the study might act as a biomarker for heart diseases. Experts have looked at the records of participants who have got their retinal OCT scans done from July 2014 to July 2019. They have compared the scans of people who have been suffering from heart disease with those who have been healthy. People with heart issues have been found with an increased number of RIPLs in the eyes, said the experts. Experts have concluded that an increased number of RIPLs in the eyes is linked to a higher risk of heart ailments.
Scientists from the American College of Cardiology have created the atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk score calculator. Experts use this to assess patients’ 10-year risk of having cardiovascular incidents such as heart attack or stroke. During the study, experts have found a link between the number of RIPLs in the eyes of the patients and their ASCVD risk score. The lead author of the study, Mathieu Bakhoum has said that patients with low ASCVD risk score have been found with a low number of RIPLs in the eyes. Ophthalmologists at UC San Diego Health have said that if RIPLs are detected during the OCT scan, patients should be referred to cardiologists even if they have not shown any other symptoms of heart disease. The authors of the study have said that heart disease is a leading cause of death across the world and many people do not even know that they might be dealing with heart issues. They have said that early detection and treatment are very important to prevent the increasing number of deaths due to heart issues.