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Simple Blood Test Can Predict Heart Attack Risk within Six Months

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 13 Feb 2024
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Image: A standard blood test can predict a heart attack (Photo courtesy of 123RF)
Image: A standard blood test can predict a heart attack (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death globally, with their incidence on the rise. Despite this, many high-risk individuals either remain unidentified or fail to adhere to preventive treatments. Notably, the period preceding a heart attack is marked by significant biological changes. For instance, the risk of a heart attack doubles in the month following a divorce and increases fivefold in the week after a cancer diagnosis. Based on the hypothesis that several vital biological processes are active during the months before a heart attack, researchers have now suggested that these could be detected using a simple blood test.

Researchers at Uppsala University (Uppsala, Sweden) have developed an online tool that, when used in conjunction with standard blood test results, can help clinicians determine if a person is at an elevated risk of experiencing a heart attack within the next six months. The study involved analyzing blood samples from 169,053 individuals from six European cohorts who had no previous history of cardiovascular disease. Of these participants, 420 suffered their first heart attack within six months. Their blood samples were then compared with those from 1,598 healthy cohort members.

The research team identified approximately 90 molecules associated with an increased risk of a first heart attack. Interestingly, existing healthcare blood samples are sufficient to predict this risk. The research team plans to further explore these 90 newly identified molecules to better understand them and investigate potential treatment opportunities. Additionally, the online tool created by the researchers enables individuals to assess their six-month heart attack risk. This tool is intended to boost patients' motivation to adopt healthier lifestyles, such as adhering to preventive medication regimens or quitting smoking.

“We wanted to develop methods that would enable the health services to identify people who will soon suffer their first heart attack,” said Professor Johan Sundström at Uppsala University who led the research team. 

Related Links:
Uppsala University

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