In the UK there are more than 100,000 hospital admissions each year due to heart attacks. Could a simple blood test help doctors predict the risk of heart attacks in people? If a piece of fatty material breaks off, a blood clot could form which tries to repair the damage to the artery wall. The blood clot could block the coronary artery, causing part of the heart muscle to be starved of blood and oxygen and this is when a heart attack occurs. An incredible 1.4 million people alive in the UK today have survived a heart attack. Death rates from coronary heart disease are the highest in areas of great deprivation and 42,000 people died prematurely from cardiovascular disease.
New research suggest that by detecting the blood levels of specific proteins that heart muscles release when they are injured could help scientists predict a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The test is now being widely used to help hospital staff diagnose heart attacks in people who come in with symptoms of chest pain.
By analysing the blood samples they are able to analyse specific proteins which are released by the heart muscle when it is damaged.
Doctor Christie Ballantyne, senior study author and cardiology chief at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston said: “What we’re finding out is that these tests can be used in general population to give us information as to who is most likely to have a future problem, whether it be a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.”
The research involved examining a group of 8,121 people aged between 54 to 74 with no history of cardiovascular disease.
It found that when using highly sensitive troponin tests it proved especially good at predicting cardiovascular events and was able to calculate a persons 10-year risk of having a heart attack. Troponin is a protein that’s released into the bloodstream during a heart attack.
The British Heart Foundation has recently funded research into troponin testing.
Senior cardiac nurse, Christopher Allan said: “We have recently funded research into troponin blood testing that is even more sensitive and may help diagnose more heart attacks, particularly in woman, who can release lower levels of troponin.”
Doctor Ballantyne concluded: “Research in this area is leading us toward individualised care more so we can better predict who’s at risk for developing adverse cardiovascular outcomes.”
Methods to lessening your risk of having a heart attack:
- Lower your blood pressure
- Manage diabetes
- Choose good nutrition
- Stop smoking
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Be physically active
- Try maintain a healthy weight
- Manage stress
Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the centre of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and then comes back again.
It can feel like an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or intense pain. The pain can be in other areas of the body such as arms, neck, jaw, stomach or back.
Having a sudden severe headache, shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, feeling light headed or nauseous are all symptoms of a possible heart attack.
You should seek medical treatment immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.