Advancement in blood testing may help predict heart attacks
The good ole fashioned treadmill has been the stress test used by doctors for many years to predict a heart attack. Now new blood test may be able to predict heart attacks. While a treadmill stress test can alert a physician to a blockage in the coronary arteries, it cannot determine whether or when the blockage will rupture and cause a heart attack. Because the best prevention for a heart attack is the knowledge of the severity of a blockage, researchers have been looking for ways to answer that question.
The March 2012 issue of Science Translational Medicine published the findings of the new blood test. The findings showed that individuals with higher levels of misshapen CEC's (circulating endothelial cells that come from the lining of the blood vessels may be at an increased rate for a heart attack. To have the ability to predict a heart attack is considered one of the highest priorities to cardiologists.
This study included the participation of 50 patients who have previously experienced a heart attack and 44e healthy volunteers. Florescent imaging was used to show the CEC's from a heart attack patient looked differently than those of the healthy counterpart. This study showed that the number of these blood cells were not only higher in those with a risk for heart attack, but an astounding 400% higher. While these findings are exciting and making a positive step in the direction of preventing a heart attack, they are new and the tests are still being analyzed.
More studies will need to take place to confirm or deny these findings in order for it to weigh in the prevention of a heart attack. The basic methods of prevention are still the best. A healthy lifestyle of regular exercise, a healthy diet and regular checkups. Blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking are all factors that need to be considered as well.
These findings may show the difference in blood cells in those more at risk for a heart attack and when that heart attack may occur, but researchers are still unable to determine when those cells change. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death for both men and women. Until major breakthroughs come through the medical community it rests with individuals to take care of their bodies and listen to their doctor.