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Blood Tests Can Determine How Fast A Person's Organs Are Ageing, Study Finds

Blood Tests Can Determine How Fast A Person's Organs Are Ageing, Study Finds
Do you get your blood tested regularly? (Photo: Freepik)

The 11 major organs analysed by scientists for ageing included brain, heart, liver, lung, intestine, kidney, fat, blood vessels, immune tissue, muscles and pancreas. According to the researchers, figuring out which organs were in "rapid decline" could reveal underlying health issues.

Written by Prerna Mittra |Updated : December 8, 2023 12:01 PM IST

There are many benefits of getting blood tests done. For starters, it is a disease preventative process, wherein by determining your blood and its components, you can make several lifestyle-specific changes to prevent any major health-related issue from happening to you, or to prepare for a setback that may happen in the future. Doctors advise that even those who appear healthy get their blood tested, especially if they are genetically predisposed to certain diseases and disorders. Now, a new study has found that blood tests can also determine how fast a person's organs are ageing, and if there is a risk of them failing in the future.

According to an Independent report, UK scientists monitored 11 major organs, including the heart and the lungs. It was found that all of them are prone to "accelerated ageing", as defined by the "levels of certain proteins in the blood". The team, led by academics from California's Stanford University, found that people whose organs were "ageing faster than the rest of their body" had a "higher risk of developing diseases in that particular organ within 15 years".

The new paper published in Nature stated that about 20 per cent of the people aged 50 or older had one or more organs ageing at an "accelerated rate" compared to the rest of the body. Additionally, around one-fifth of more than 5,600 study participants met the authors' criteria for accelerated ageing for at least one organ. "Such hyper-aged organs are linked to a higher prevalence of disease, and having one organ of unusually advanced age is linked to a higher risk of premature death," the study found.

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The 11 major organs that were analysed by scientists for ageing included brain, heart, liver, lung, intestine, kidney, fat, blood vessels, immune tissue, muscles and pancreas in five independent cohorts. According to the researchers, figuring out which organs were in "rapid decline" could reveal underlying health issues in the individual/s. They used a "machine-learning algorithm" to investigate approximately 5,000 proteins in the blood of people between the ages of 20 years and 90 years.

"We can estimate the biological age of an organ in an apparently-healthy person. That, in turn, predicts a person's risk for disease related to that organ," Tony Wyss-Coray, professor of neurology, Stanford University and senior study author was quoted as saying.

Interestingly, per the study, while having a "prematurely old heart" was linked to a whopping 250 per cent increased risk of heart failure, participants with an "ageing brain" were more at risk of developing dementia. "If we can reproduce this finding in 50,000 or 1,00,000 individuals, it will mean by monitoring the health of individual organs in apparently-healthy people, we might be able to find organs undergoing accelerated ageing in people's bodies and we might be able to treat people before they get sick," Wyss-Coray further said, as mentioned in the Independent report.