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Heart attack test predicts silent risk

A simple blood test could help identify people at risk of a heart attack, a study has found.

An image of a heart

The study, led by the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, involved more than 3,000 men with high cholesterol but no history of heart disease.

 

Troponin test

Troponin is a molecule which leaks into the blood stream when the heart muscle is damaged. Researchers found that changes in levels of troponin in a patient’s blood sample accurately predicted the risk of that person suffering a heart attack or dying of coronary heart disease.

People whose troponin levels decreased the most were five times less likely to suffer a heart attack – or die from coronary heart disease – than those who experienced the greatest increase in troponin levels, the study showed. 

Patients suspected of suffering a heart attack will often be given a troponin test to confirm the diagnosis, but until now it was not known whether the test could help to determine future heart attack risk.

The findings suggest the test could also be used to identify people who will benefit from statins – medicines that are used to lower heart disease risk – and could help to monitor whether patients are responding to the treatment.

 

Statins

The team also found that taking statins was associated with a drop in troponin levels. Treatment doubled the number of men whose troponin fell more than a quarter, which identified them as having the lowest risk for future coronary events.

 

Related links

Journal article

BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science

Edinburgh Medical School