Heart attack test could identify patients at risk

Could a new test identify those most at risk of a heart attack?
Each year cardiovascular disease causes 3.9 million deaths in Europe and over 1.8 million deaths in the European Union

A study from the University of Sheffield, UK, has found a new blood test that could help identify which patients are most at risk of suffering a heart attack following cardiovascular disease (CVD).

To detect who is more susceptible for a heart attack, the team of researchers, led by Professor Rob Storey from the Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease, analysed blood plasma samples of over 4,300 discharged patients with acute coronary syndrome.

Analysing clot lysis time

They measured the maximum density of a clot and the time it took for the clot to break down – known as clot lysis time, before adjusting for known clinical characteristics and risk factors.

They found that patients with the longest clot lysis time had a 40% increased risk of a recurrent myocardial infarction or death due to cardiovascular disease.

The results suggest that novel therapies targeting fibrin clot lysis time may improve prognosis in patients with acute coronary syndrome.

Improved prognosis following a heart attack

Storey, who is also academic director and an honorary consultant in the Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery Directorate at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have made huge strides over the last two decades in improving prognosis following heart attacks, but there is still plenty of room for further improvement.

“Our findings provide exciting clues as to why some patients are at higher risk after heart attack and how we might address this with new treatments in the future.

“We now need to press ahead with exploring possibilities for tailoring treatment to an individual’s risk following a heart attack and testing whether drugs that improve clot lysis time can reduce this risk.”

Facts about cardiovascular disease

  • Each year cardiovascular disease causes 3.9 million deaths in Europe and over 1.8 million deaths in the European Union;
  • CVD accounts for 45% of all deaths in Europe and 37% of all deaths in the EU; and
  • It is the main cause of death in men in all but 12 countries in Europe and the main cause of death in women in all but two.

Results were published in the European Heart Journal.

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