News Stories

Heart Attacks May Have Saved Us

Can a bird have a heart attack? (They have high blood pressure, just like we do). Cardiovascular disease may be an unfortunate consequence of mammalian evolution. In other words, heart attacks may have evolved as a human survival mechanism, so what kills us today may be what kept our species alive in the past.

During starvation, the body conserves energy by slowing down the function of the vital organs, including the heart, thus preserving available energy and prolonging survival. A protective response to starvation may promote heart failure, because two proteins that team up to conserve energy when food is scarce also limit energy production in the heart--a situation that can prove fatal when the heart is stressed and in need of an energy boost.

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