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Can an Eye Exam Predict Future Cardiovascular Problems?

New research from the Hypertension journal maintains that your eyes may be the windows to your heart, quite literally. In fact, by simply looking at your eyes, the researchers can predict if you’ll be suffering from hypertension or have other cardiovascular problems years after. Scroll below to learn more about this research. 
Eye Exam Predicts Future Cardiovascular Problems blue eyes closeup
Heart disease and cardiovascular issues are on the rise, and there’s a lot we don’t know about it, still. One major issue is that of early diagnosis and prevention, with medical professionals still lacking the tools that could let them select the individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease, with many unexplained cases of heart attack and stroke slipping through the cracks each year.
In search of quick and non-invasive methods that could help predict cardiovascular issues, scientists turned to our eyes, which they believe may tell us more about our hearts than we’d expect. Previous research has established that retinal alterations in adults can predict hypertension in adults and even in children.

In fact, a Swiss pediatric study found that children as young as 6 years old exhibit changes in the blood supply to the eyes that points to the earliest signs of blood pressure alterations. These previous studies prompted a large scale project in the UK looking at retinal changes in 55,000 middle-aged and senior adults.

Eye Exam Predicts Future Cardiovascular Problems eye exam
To do so, 3.5 million images of the blood vessels in the eyes were taken and then analyzed. The study found that the smallest capillaries located in the back of the eye were affected by hypertension and artery stiffness. None of these changes affected the patients’ vision, but they were a reflection of the cardiovascular health of each patient.
This way, just a quick look at a person’s eye may show a medical professional how likely the patient is to have a heart event or any other cardiovascular issue, making this eye exam a useful diagnostic tool. The next step in the study is to put the theory and observations to the test and see how well the recorded retinal changes will predict the likelihood of a heart event in the next 10 years.
Given that cardiovascular disease in one of the greatest health threats of the present, a retinal exam like this may soon become a useful tool for managing and preventing heart conditions and hypertension.
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