Biomarker trio enables blood Dx to map heart attack risk

Another team of researchers is tackling the task of developing a blood test designed to predict a patient's likelihood of suffering a heart attack. And they've zeroed on three promising biomarkers to help get the job done.

The team from MedStar Washington Hospital Center and Emory University School of Medicine drew their data from blood samples of 3,415 patients represented in Emory's cardiology blood bank who either had coronary artery disease or were suspected of suffering from it. Patients were also tracked for any cardiac problems for more than two years.

What they found: high sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrin degradation products (FDP) and heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) work well in combination with an aggregate score to predict patients at risk of a heart attack or even death. Patients who had all three biomarkers, for example, had a more than 16% risk of having a heart attack or dying within 12 months. For patients without any positive biomarkers, the risk of cardiac problems or death dropped to 2.4%.

More research is needed, of course, to make sure such a blood test is viable. But with 1.2 million Americans suffering a heart attack each year, a test that accurately predicts risk could allow more aggressive treatment or surgery to help prevent a heart attack before it happens. And fewer heart attacks would not only save lives, but also help reduce healthcare costs.

Researchers, startups and companies are pursuing development of heart attack diagnostics that would identify risk or rapidly diagnose the condition as it happens. Nanomix, for example, will be testing a hand-held blood test device on 170 people in the U.S. that rapidly identifies the presence of the troponin, myoglobin and H-FABP biomarkers, which can indicate a heart attack is under way. Becton Dickinson and University of Pennsylvania spinout CytoVas will be developing a blood diagnostic that gauges heart attack and stroke risk for individual patients. And Abbott ($ABT) recently won a crucial CE marking for a diagnostic that tests for troponin to determine whether a patient is having a heart attack.

For more details about the MedStar Washington Hospital Center/Emory University School of Medicine research, check out their work online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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