Link between burn injuries and cardiovascular disease explored

A review, from the School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of Western Australia, explores research which suggests blood platelets may be a novel link between burn injury and a life-long risk of heart disease.

The review, which has been published in the journal Platelets, looks at blood platelet response after burn injury as well as increasing evidence which suggests there is a chronic lifelong systemic effect on survivors’ health.

Review author Professor Fiona Wood, from UWA’s Medical School and Burn Injury Research Unit, said understanding platelet responses to burn injury was absolutely vital for delivering in-patient care.

“We think platelet response may also play a crucial role in long-term outcomes,” Professor Wood said.

Burn injuries are common and often result in life-threatening trauma and with this comes an interruption of normal the body’s normal response to prevent and stop bleeding or haemorrhaging, with distinct impacts on platelets.

Platelet function is a vital component of the acute response, with clot formation initiating the processes of wound healing at injury and at times of surgery.

The review looks at research into the relationship between burn injury and platelet function and whether incidence of cardiovascular disease is higher in burn survivors compared to the general population because of platelet dysfunction.

Co-author Associate Professor Matthew Linden, from UWA’s School of Biomedical Sciences, said blood platelets played a well-established role in cardiovascular disease.

“Much is already known about how frank activation of blood platelets drives blood clots and heart attacks,” Associate Professor Linden said.

“We are now learning more about how more subtle but long-term activation of blood platelets, such as occurs with inflammation or injury, might gradually build risk for a range of diseases over years to decades.”

A collaborative study between Professor Wood and Associate Professor Linden is underway to investigate the mechanisms proposed in this review.

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