Evidence of heart injury found in Generation Scotland volunteers
Researchers suggest a £10 test could be used as an early-warning system to avoid future health problems.
Researchers studied blood samples from 19,500 'healthy' Generation Scotland volunteers. They found that more than half of volunteers have injury to the muscle tissue in their hearts.
The blood samples were tested for evidence of troponin T and I, which are proteins essential for heart contraction. The researchers followed up on the volunteers health 8 years later to understand how their future heart health had been affected. They were able to show that people with high levels of Troponin I were more likely to suffer from heart disease, stroke or other heart conditions.
We found that more than half of people in the generally healthy group were walking around with detectable troponin levels in their bloodstream, suggesting they had already had some level of heart injury.
The study wouldn't have been possible without improved testing, which can detect smaller levels of troponin than ever before. Testing troponin levels is inexpensive, costing no more than £10 per test. It has been suggested this research could pave the way to a new standard test for all NHS patients over the age of 40.
While it's an obvious concern that people can have suffered some heart damage without realising it, the good news is that troponin tests are affordable and already commonplace in clinical settings.
People over 40 already have 'health MOTs' which examine their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and the like. Adding a troponin test could prove tobe a valuable early-warning system to identify the specific types of heart problem they might face in the future and take steps to address them early on.
The study was lead by Dr. Paul Welsh and was conducted at the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Oxford, New South Wales and John Hopkins University. Research like this can only continue thanks to volunteers, like those involved in the Generation Scotland Scottish Family Health Study.
The publication can be found in the American Heart Associations Journal 'Circulation':
Cardiac Troponin T and I in the General Population
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