A cheap blood test could accurately predict when seemingly healthy patients are at risk of ‘silent’ heart attacks.
The test, developed at the University of Edinburgh and Glasgow, could be a much better measure than traditional methods that rely on blood pressure and cholesterol levels, say researchers .
The participants in the study, who were all male, were not previously known to have heart conditions but were chosen for having raised cholesterol levels.
The test works by looking for a protein, called Troponin, which is released when heart muscle is damaged.
Troponin is an excellent signpost for problems as its presence in the bloodstream can be linked to heart problems that will occur as far away as fifteen years in the future.
Currently the test is being used to confirm heart attacks that are already suspected to have happened, but researchers now want to use the test before the problem gets to that stage and avoid it.
Because once the test detects the Troponin, the patient can be prescribed statins to get the condition under control.
Professor David Newby, said: “Troponin is almost like a barometer of heart health. If it creeps up, that’s bad and your risk of heart problems increases. If it goes down, that’s good.”
The study, which was funded by the British Heart Foundation, looked at 3300 participants over a period of nearly five years.