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Achilles tendon thickness may predict Heart attack

Achilles tendon thickness may predict Heart attack

The thickness of the Achilles tendon may be an indicator of the severity of coronary artery disease and the likeliness of such patients for a heart attack, suggests a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions meeting in Chicago.

Achilles tendon is the longest and strongest tendon in the body that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone.

Takuya Hashimoto, a cardiologist at the Kitasato University School of Medicine in Tokyo, and colleagues conducted the study to determine the association between severity of coronary artery disease and thickness of the Achilles tendon in 241 people who had received a stent to open a blocked blood vessel in their heart.

Also Read: Fluoroquinolones increase risk of Achilles tendon rupture in elderly, FDA warns

Key Findings:

  • 80% of participants with an Achilles tendon thickness of 9 millimeters – about a third of an inch – or more had more than one heart artery that was blocked, placing them at higher risk for a heart attack.
  • Those with a thinner Achilles tendon, 58 percent had more than one blocked heart artery.
  • People with a thick Achilles tendon also were more likely to have left main coronary artery disease, which is associated with the highest risk of heart disease and death.

Also Read: First Ever Test That predicts risk of MI in Coronary artery disease

“A diagnosis of Achilles tendon thickness could potentially be used to identify people at risk of heart disease,” said Dr. Hashimoto.  But he said this study couldn’t confirm that because it included patients already with coronary artery disease and did not look at patients with Achilles tendon thickening due to other causes.

Dr. Philip Ades, a cardiologist at the University of Vermont College of Medicine who was not involved with either study, said the research addresses an association that has intrigued heart doctors for years.

“As a clinician, if I see a patient with a very thickened Achilles tendon or xanthomas, I’ll tell myself, “If they’re depositing cholesterol in their tendons, it’s very likely they’re depositing lipids elsewhere, such as in their coronary arteries,'” he said.

But given that there already are numerous ways to predict which patients are more likely to develop coronary artery disease, Ades said he doesn’t see screening for Achilles tendon thickness as something likely to become routine.

“Sending people to the hospital for a fancy X-ray of their Achilles isn’t warranted when we already have these simple measures to tell us who is more likely to have coronary disease,” he said.

Source: With inputs from AHA Scientific Sessions 2018

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