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Blood tests may be able to detect heart attack risk

February 21, 2014

Heart disease affects hundreds of thousands of individuals each year. Nutrient-rich diets, plenty of exercise and stress-free environments can help contribute to a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Taking these steps has also been proven to reap positive benefits for the heart, but few indicators exist that can properly warn doctors of an imminent heart-related problem. While there is no way to completely prevent these unfortunate health detriments from occurring, scientists have developed tests that may be able to better identify one's risk of having a heart attack. 

Post-surgery heart attacks may be identified
After undergoing surgery, more than 8 million patients have heart attacks or other injuries. Due to medication given after the procedure that may lead to a lack of traditional symptoms, 85 percent of these problems go undetected, according to a study published in the journal Anesthesiology. Researchers found that while most people who have heart attacks report chest pain, dizziness or nausea, only 15 percent of those who have them following an operation display these symptoms.

Dr. PJ Devereaux, head of cardiology at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre in Canada, worked with a team of researchers to study more than 15,000 individuals who recently underwent a medical procedure. They suggested that a blood test administered to measure levels of troponin in the blood could indicate an individual's likelihood of having an attack. Karsten Bartels, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, noted that the blood test could open doors for medical researchers to begin formulating additional tests, according to a press release from Medical News Today.

"The ease and feasibility of the test to detect heart injury point to tremendous opportunities for designing clinical studies to test novel interventions for attenuation (or reduction) of myocardial injury and perioperative mortality," Bartels said in the release.

Markers in one's bloodstream can note risk
In a separate research study, which was recently published in the IOP Science journal, scientists found that certain cells in one's blood could indicate whether that individual was at risk for having an attack. The group of scientists from The Scripps Research Institute examined a group of people who recently suffered from attacks, but scientists believe it can now be used on those who are displaying signs. Peter Kuhn, associate professor at TSRI and lead author, said in a Select Science release that his group's findings showed potential for classifying future patients.

"Our results were so significant relative to the healthy controls that the obvious next step is to assess the usefulness of the test in identifying patients during the early stages of a heart attack," Kuhn said.