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Jan 28
2011

Medical news: Blood test could detect heart disease in people who show no symptoms

Posted by: jfrancis in Heart Disease

jfrancis

blood testWhat if you could find out if you are at a high risk of heart disease before showing any symptoms? What if you had the opportunity to save your life before you were even aware that you were at risk of a premature death in the first place? You'd probably go for it, right? Well thanks to new information provided by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center this may all be possible one day. These researchers have recently discovered a new blood testing method that could help doctors detect heart disease in patients who show no symptoms.

This new test looks for a protein called cardiac troponin T (cTnT), which research has discovered that people with detectable levels of this protein are about seven times more likely to die within six years from heart disease. So far researchers have tested for this protein on more than 3,500 different samples of blood provided by individuals, and out of that 3,500 25% of the samples were detected to contain cTnT with the use of this highly sensitive testing method.

This new testing method is actually just a more sensitive version of a standard blood test normally used to determine if someone is having a heart attack. What makes the sensitive test so different from the standard test is that the standard test can only detect cTnT in a very small percentage of the population, limiting it's ability for assessing risk in people who show no symptoms of heart disease. The sensitive test however can detect cTnT in almost everyone with chronic heart failure and chronic coronary artery disease, even before they show any symptoms.

When it comes to the technology involved with this testing method it was discovered by Dr. James de Lemos, associate professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study, that cTnT could be detected in one percent of the population using standard technology. This information was obtained thanks to previous findings of Dr. Lemos' investigation of cardiovascular disease which involved more than 6,100 Dallas County residents. As a way to determine if newer, more sensitive technology could be used to detect cTnT at lower levels, researchers used the same populations of residents used in Dr. Lemos' previous study over a time span of seven years, starting with the year 2000 and ending in 2007.

Beginning in 2000 more than 3,500 participants provided blood samples and underwent numerous body scans with magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography to examine the heart and other organs. The cause and time of death of participants, ages 30 to 65, were then tracked by researchers up until 2007. The point of this experiment was to represent urban communities through out the United States where there is a high rate of obesity, untreated hypertension and diabetes. This study has shown researchers that the people with the highest levels of cTnT were older adults, African-Americans, males, and people with abnormal thickening or weakness of the heart muscles. In addition to this test Dr. Lemos co-authored a second study led by Dr. Christopher deFilippi of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, which used the highly sensitive test only on participants older than 65. The information obtained by that research showed that in addition to death, cTnT was associated with heart failure, and that the risk of both outcomes altered depending on the change in the level of cTnT over time.

Currently this new method is still the experiment/testing stage and is not currently used in hospitals or other medical treatment centers, but progress is surely on the way. This highly sensitive testing method is among the most powerful predictors of death in the general population so far. With the ability to detect cardiovascular problems normally unrecognized until it is too late, it is hoped that some time in the near future it could be used to prevent death and disability from heart failure and other cardiac diseases.

 

 

Comments (1)Add Comment
jfrancis
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written by jfrancis, Friday, 07:26 PM, January 28, 2011
It's amazing how amazing our technology is progressing

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