Scientists from McGill University used the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan to uncover that different minerals block heart valves in men versus women. This discovery could impact how heart disease is diagnosed and treated for the different sexes. Heart disease is the leading cause of death throughout the world. Marta Cerruti, an Associate Professor with McGill University, and her team used the CMCF beamline at the CLS to analyze damaged heart valves from patients who needed transplants.
“What we showed, which was a surprise to us, is that the type of minerals in the heart valves is different between the sexes,” said Cerruti. The beamline allowed them to see that the buildup of minerals in the heart, and its progression to a more bone-like state, is slower in women than in men. There was also a type of mineral found almost exclusively in the female samples. “That finding was completely new, we did not expect it at all. There is no other technique that could have showed us this difference in mineral phase.”
The team hopes this finding could help to develop better diagnostics and therapies.
Image: Ophélie Gourgas, lead author of this research paper, holds a sample that was analyzed at the CLS in the study of vascular calcification that leads to what’s commonly called “the hardening of the arteries.”