Shorter Telomeres Associated With Risk of Coronary Heart Disease Interview with:
Philip Haycock, PhD
Post-Doctoral Research Assistant
MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit
University of Bristol
Bristol, BS8 2BN, UK

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Haycock: We found that shorter telomeres were significantly associated with risk of coronary heart disease and that the association was independent of conventional vascular risk factors, including age, sex, body mass index, smoking, history of diabetes, blood pressure and lipid markers.

Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Haycock: Although telomere length is widely regarded as a marker of age-related chronic diseases we did not find strong evidence for an association with cerebrovascular disease.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Haycock: Although telomere length is probably an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease, whether it is a clinically useful predictor of disease that can help guide treatment decisions still requires further research. It is therefore premature to start offering telomere length measurement services to the general public for the prediction of cardiovascular disease in individuals.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Haycock: Formal evaluation of the value of telomere length in predicting risk of cardiovascular disease, e.g. using metrics of risk discrimination and risk reclassification, is required in large prospective studies with long follow-up. This will inform whether the measurement of telomere length in general practice can help guide treatment decisions. Research is also required in large studies to clarify the shape of the association between telomere length and cardiovascular disease and to clarify the association with stroke.


Leucocyte telomere length and risk of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis
Philip C Haycock, Emma E Heydon, Stephen Kaptoge, Adam S Butterworth, Alex Thompson, Peter Willeit,

MJ2014; 349doi: 08 July 2014)Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4227