According to a study published by PLoS One, researchers have found an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase (GPx3) can significantly lower the risk of heart disease.

Gpx3 is a natural antioxidant that helps the body naturally repair itself and helps protect organisms from oxidant injury.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School, in collaboration with the School of Public Health, discovered that the GPx3 enzyme could potentially be a significant benefit for patients with low levels of good cholesterol (HDL). However, the enzyme does not make a considerable difference in patients with high levels of HDL.

Furthermore, as GPx3 is associated to heart disease, it could help determine cardiovascular risk in individuals with low HDL and low levels of GPx3.

Jordan L. Holtzman, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and medicine within the University of Minnesota Medical School, explained:

“In our study, we found that people with high levels of the GPx3 enzyme and low levels of good cholesterol were six times less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people with low levels of both. This GPx3 enzyme gives us a good reason to believe that natural antioxidants like GPx3 are good for heart health.”

1 in 4 adults (50 million) in the United States are affected by low HDL and low GPx3. This condition can lead to fatal heart attacks and strokes. Researchers are continuously seeking new ways to better identify individuals at risk for these diseases and how patients diagnosed with these diseases can reduce its impact.

Holtzman explained:

“It’s important to point out that people should not rush out to their doctors and demand testing for the GPx3 enzyme. But in time, we hope that measuring this enzyme will be a common blood test when determining whether a patient is at risk for cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.”

The team analyzed 130 stored samples from the Minnesota Heart Survey from patients who died of heart disease after 5-12 years of follow up care and compared them with 240 control samples.

The researchers examined high cholesterol, smoking, and hypertension, all of which are major risk factors for heart disease. They discovered that individuals were 6 times more likely to die from heart disease, heart attack or stroke if they had low levels of HDL and GPx3, than patients with low levels of HDL and high levels of GPx3.

Holtzman concluded: “This is an important enzyme for people with low HDL cholesterol. We think further research will be important in determining the future role of GPx3 and what drugs may serve to increase its activity in the blood.”

Written By Grace Rattue