Are You More Likely to Have Early Heart Disease if You Are Predisposed to Blood Clots? An Explainer from Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD

Are patients who have premature cardiovascular disease (CVD), or early heart disease, more likely to have thrombophilia, a condition that increases the risk of blood clots? That's the question that Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD, sought to answer in a recent study he conducted of more than 150 patients who have CVD.

Below are some of the highlights and main points of that study.

Why This is Important

Patients who develop blood clots early on — where ‘early’ usually means between the ages of 50 years old or younger for males and 55 years old or younger for females — could be at higher risk for developing premature CVD.

We already know that a predisposition towards blood clots also seems to play a role for patients with various types of ischemia – a medical condition where certain parts of the body end up getting reduced blood flow. But it seems that it also has a role to play in premature CVD.

As shown in a study with 153 patients with early heart disease from Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD, doctors found that many of the patients also had thrombophilia, or certain factors in their blood that increase the risk of blood clots. These factors include:

  • high levels of factor VIII
  • homocysteine
  • ACLA IgM
  • low free protein S
  • high Lp(a)
  • lupus anticoagulant.

All of which are technical terms for illnesses or genetic abnormalities that ultimately contribute to a higher likelihood of clotting.

The study showed that thrombophilia is common in patients with early heart disease and is similar to what's seen in people with venous thromboembolism (VTE), which are blood clots that travel to the lungs or other areas. In addition, patients who have restricted arteries and clotting issues have higher rates of repeating incidents (heart attacks, etc.) and, as a result, re-hospitalization.

The Study Group

How did the doctors discover this correlation? Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD, along with colleagues, ended up assessing 153 patients who had premature CVD who were younger than 45 years old, as well as 110 patients having healthy normal controls and 110 with a specific kind of blood clot that typically travels to the lungs or limbs without CVD.

What they discovered was that a significant number of their patients with premature CVD also had thrombophilia.

Of those who had CVD, 79% of them had also suffered a heart attack in the past, 46% had coronary artery stenting, and 35% had had a heart bypass. The majority of those patients (106) had their first CVD event occur between the ages of 35 to 46, with 47 of the patients having their first event between 20 and 35 years old. That’s pretty young age to experience heart disease, which is why patients with blood-clotting factors should be aware of the possibilities.

The Study's Findings

The study conducted by Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD, found that people who experienced a blockage of an artery earlier in life were associated with a higher risk of blood clots, especially in younger women.

In addition to the conventional risk factors that are associated with premature heart disease, the study also documented the pervasive presence and significance of thrombophilia, compared to healthy patients who don't have CVD.

What's more, when there are no conventional risk factors for premature CVD present, the study found that thrombophilia has a contributory role to premature CVD, which means that it might be one of the factors that helps to lead to early heart disease. The findings show that when other risk factors weren't present, there was often a higher number of blood clot-related abnormalities in the group who had premature heart disease.

In essence, it seems that there is a correlation between people with a higher likelihood of clotting and early heart disease.

About Gregory Duhon, MDDr. Gregory Duhon, MD, is an Internal Medicine Physician and Hospitalist with acumen in ICU, emergency room, and crisis/pandemic management. Known for compassionate patient care, Dr. Duhon has donated volunteer time to provide medical care to flood victims and those affected by opioid addiction. Gregory Duhon is training for the Ironman and enjoys travel, cooking, and passion fruit propagation.