biology

Andrew Bulmer pic

A link between a liver compound and cholesterol may provide a cheap and easy way to predict heart disease and heart attack, Queensland scientists have found.

Dr Andrew Bulmer and his team from Griffith Health Institute at Griffith University have demonstrated that higher levels of bilirubin, a compound produced by the liver, is related to lower levels of cholesterol, which is indicated in heart disease when it is high.

“Bilirubin, therefore, represents a ‘biomarker’, something we can measure to assist in predicting heart disease and heart attack,” says Andrew.

“Measurement of bilirubin is a cheap test and is routinely conducted for other purposes. Therefore, this biomarker could be rapidly adopted to inform Australians and extend their lives,” he says.

With an accurate method for heart disease prediction, doctors could identify at-risk individuals very early in their lives and reduce the possibility of heart disease by prescribing behavioural or drug-based treatments.

“Clearly, this information has the potential to save lives,” says Andrew.

Heart disease claims the lives of more than 22000 Australians every year and is the leading cause of death in Australia. It also costs the country more than $5 billion a year to treat and manage.

Queensland State Finalist: Andrew Bulmer, Griffith University