Heart disease often takes its victims by surprise, but a study has found that one highly-sensitive blood test is capable of picking out the warning signs years before a heart attack occurs.
The High Sensitive Troponin-I blood test was found to be able to predict heart disease risk years in advance, even in people with no symptoms, healthcare giant Abbott said in a statement on April 29.
Published in medical journal Circulation, the study was conducted in the US over a 15-year period, and involved 8,121 adults aged 54 to 73 years old.
These adults had no known heart disease when their blood samples were first collected in 1998.
Using Abbott’s High Sensitive Troponin-I diagnostic test, researchers studied the level of troponin – a protein released by the heart when it is damaged – in the stored blood samples.
The people in the study were then monitored for 15 years to see if they experienced a cardiac event.
Around 85 per cent of the stored blood samples were detected to have troponin in them, and findings showed that people with higher levels of troponin-I were two times more likely to have a heart attack, and three times more likely to suffer from an ischemic stroke compared to people with low levels of troponin-I.
People with high troponin-I levels were also four times more likely to be hospitalised with heart failure.
This increased risk was independent of typical heart disease risk factors, such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, smoking and diabetes, Abbott said.
According to Abbott, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, but they can often be prevented if they are identified early in life and properly managed through lifestyle changes and medication.
Currently, physicians look at indirect heart health factors – such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure and family history – to assess the risk of people developing heart diseases.
But that alone might not be enough.
Agim Beshiri, senior medical director of global medical and scientific affairs and diagnostics at Abbott, said: “Advancements in our diagnostic technology are allowing us to see levels of troponin that may indicate early signs of injury to the heart years before heart disease becomes overt or symptoms appear.”
“Having a clearer picture of a patient’s heart health can serve as a wake-up call – empowering people to work with their doctors to take control of their heart health and possibly prevent a future cardiac event,” he added.
Abbott’s High Sensitive Troponin-I test is available in Singapore, and pending registration in the US.
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