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Researchers at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) have found that atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries, could accelerate aging even before symptoms of cardiovascular disease appear. The study published in the European Heart Journal utilized comprehensive data from the PESA-CNIC-SANTANDER study, examined over 4,000 Banco Santander employees aged 40 to 54 who had no previous cardiovascular disease. The PESA-CNIC-SANTANDER study has been studying subclinical atherosclerosis progression in the subjects.

Healthy lifestyle and cholesterol-lowering satins reduce inflammation

Dr. Valentín Fuster, CNIC General Director, emphasizes the advantages of reducing inflammation through a healthy lifestyle or medication like cholesterol-lowering statins. The study indicates that such approaches can potentially reduce inflammation and prevent the advancement of atherosclerosis.

According to Fuster, these interventions can delay or prevent the progression from the early stage of atherosclerosis to serious cerebrovascular incidents such as strokes or heart attacks.

The research indicates a significant link between subclinical atherosclerosis and accelerated epigenetic aging in young and healthy individuals. Study author Dr. Enrique Lara Pezzi clarified that epigenetic aging measures a person’s biological age using the epigenetic clock, responsible for predicting aging based on levels of DNA methylation. Epigenetic age may differ from chronological age.

DNA methylation can slow epigenetic aging process

Lara Pezzi notes that DNA methylation changes are reversible and that may help slow down the process of epigenetic aging. The findings indicate that systemic inflammation caused by a high burden of atherosclerotic plaques plays a significant role in speeding up epigenetic aging.

Although the research indicates a robust correlation between subclinical atherosclerosis and expedited epigenetic aging, there is need for extensive, prolonged monitoring studies with additional experimental evidence to gain deeper insights into the implications of atherosclerosis on well-being and lifespan, and to uncover the underlying mechanisms.

These study findings highlight the significance of timely identification and intervention in subclinical atherosclerosis, stressing the importance of embracing a healthy lifestyle alongside appropriate medical measures to alleviate the effects of this potentially detrimental condition on general health and the aging process.