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Help us beat heart attacks and stroke
University of Reading scientists are calling on members of the public to help make a breakthrough in the fight against the world’s leading cause of death. We are seeking volunteers to provide blood samples for a new heart disease study, examining how factors like blood cholesterol can affect a person’s risk of heart attacks or strokes.
Blood clots which form when they are not needed can cause heart attacks and strokes by blocking blood vessels. Although there are many clot-busting drugs on the market, heart attack and strokes are still one of the biggest causes of death in the UK. Research has found that there is a big variation in the activity of people’s platelets – the tiny cells in our blood which kick off the clotting process.
Researchers at the University of Reading are carrying out a British Heart Foundation-funded study called METPLAR (Understanding Metabolic Factors that Contribute to Platelet Reactivity) that is looking into what influences the speed and extent to which platelets can respond to blood vessel damage, and what factors are likely to cause formation of large clots. We will find out whether there is a relationship between a person’s platelet reactivity and a number of other parameters, including how sensitive we are to the hormone insulin, and levels of cholesterol in the blood.
With these measurements we hope to identify more accurate methods of testing platelets and determine which anti-platelet medications will work best with different individuals.
Can you help us?
We are currently looking for volunteers willing to take part in the study. The study consists of one short visit (about 45 minutes) to the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition at the University of Reading, where your blood pressure, height, weight, waist and hip circumference and body fat composition will be measured and a blood sample will also be taken.
We are currently recruiting non-smoking men and women aged 30-65 years who are not diabetic or taking medications for cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure or inflammatory conditions.
You will be reimbursed travel expenses associated with the study.
If you meet our criteria and are interested in taking part please contact the METPLAR study by phoning 0118 378 7096 or e-mailing us at email@example.com.
What is blood clotting?
Blood clotting is a very important process that is tightly regulated within our blood vessels. When we damage our blood vessels, blood clots form to form a ‘plug’ and prevent blood loss. But if clots form in the absence of damage, this can lead to blockage of our blood vessels.
The process of blood clotting is initiated by the smallest cells in our blood which are called platelets. These platelets circulate in the body in a resting state until they come into contact with a stimulator that signals to them that the blood vessels have been damaged. Platelets respond to these signals by clumping together and sticking to the site of damage forming a ‘plug’. This plug is then encased by a protein in the blood, called fibrin, which makes the clot more robust. After the clot has ‘plugged’ the site of injury, the wound is then healed over time by the body’s immune system and the clot is dissolved.
How can blood clotting lead to thrombosis?
When regulated properly, the blood clotting system works very well, however occasionally it can become dysregulated. Sometimes our platelets can become activated when they shouldn’t causing blood clots to form in places where they are not required. This unwanted clot formation can lead to a process called thrombosis. where blood clots form and grow uncontrollably large, restricting blood flow through a blood vessel and in some cases causing complete vessel blockage. These large blood clots can also break off from the vessel wall and become lodged in vessels elsewhere in the body. If thrombosis and blockage occurs in a blood vessel in the heart or in the brain this can cause a heart attack or a stroke which can have fatal consequences.
How can we help prevent thrombosis?
There are a number of successful drugs on the market that function by preventing the formation of blood clots to reduce the incidence of heart attacks and strokes, however, despite this success, heart attacks are still one of the biggest causes of death in the UK. Research has found that there is a large variation in how different people’s platelets within the normal healthy population react to stimulation and some react much more readily than others. Researchers at the University of Reading are performing a study that is looking into which factors influence the speed and extent at which platelets can respond to blood vessel damage, and what factors are likely to contribute to the formation of large clots. We will determine whether there is a relationship between an individual’s platelet reactivity and a number of metabolic parameters, including insulin sensitivity, and blood cholesterol. With these measurements we hope to identify more accurate methods of testing platelets and determine which anti-platelet medications will work best with different individuals. This human study will be performed in collaboration with the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition at the University of Reading.
What is World Thrombosis Day?
Saturday the 13th of October marks the annual “World Thrombosis Day” campaign. The aim of this global campaign is to raise awareness of thrombosis which is a condition that is often misunderstood and overlooked and is caused by the development of unwanted blood clots. The aims of the World Thrombosis Day campaign is to increase global awareness of the causes, risk factors, symptoms, prevention and treatment of thrombosis in order to ultimately reduce death and disability caused by the condition. If you would like to know more about World Thrombosis Day or the fundraising that is being done to raise awareness of this campaign, visit the World Thrombosis day website http://www.worldthrombosisday.org/.