A simple test could predict which of your organs will fail first

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A new study has found a simple blood test could predict which of our organs will fail first. According to the research published in the journal Nature, about one in every five reasonably healthy adults 50 or older is walking around with at least one organ ageing at a strongly accelerated rate.

Having an accelerated-ageing organ carried a 15-50 percent higher mortality risk over the next 15 years, depending on which organ was affected, according to the team’s results. They hope that now they can predict what organs will fail, they can prevent it and start treating patients before they are even sick.

Professor Tony Wyss-Coray from Stanford Medicine, California, said: “We can estimate the biological age of an organ in an apparently healthy person. That, in turn, predicts a person’s risk for disease related to that organ.

“Numerous studies have come up with single numbers representing individuals’ biological age — the age implied by a sophisticated array of biomarkers — as opposed to their chronical age, the actual numbers of years that have passed since their birth.

“When we compared each of these organs’ biological age for each individual with its counterparts among a large group of people without obvious severe diseases, we found that 18.4 percent of those age 50 or older had at least one organ ageing significantly more rapidly than the average.

“And we found that these individuals are at heightened risk for disease in that particular organ in the next 15 years.”

To get their results the team studied the levels of different proteins in the blood of 5,678 people.

They then tied the levels of these proteins to specific organs and flagged all proteins whose genes were four times more highly activated in one organ compared with any other organ.

Using their algorithm, the scientists predicted each of the organ’s ages and compared this prediction with their real age.

They found that the identified age gaps for 10 of the 11 organs studied were significantly associated with future risk of death from all causes over 15 years of follow-up.

The results also showed that people with accelerated heart ageing were at 2.5 times as high a risk of heart failure as people with normally ageing hearts and those with “older” brains were 1.8 times as likely to show cognitive decline over five years as those with “young” brains.

This accelerated brain or vasculature ageing predicted risk for Alzheimer’s disease progression as well as the best currently used clinical biomarkers do.

Accelerated heart and kidney ageing also helped scientists to predict hypertension, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm and heart attacks.

Prof Wyss-Coray concluded: “If we can reproduce this finding in 50,000 or 100,000 individuals, it will mean that by monitoring the health of individual organs in apparently healthy people, we might be able to find organs that are undergoing accelerated ageing in people’s bodies, and we might be able to treat people before they get sick.”

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