New blood test to screen for secondary heart attack

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Sydney : Australian scientists are developing a simple blood test that quickly and easily detects whether a person is at risk of a secondary heart attack.

The simple blood test, similar to the process and cost of having a cholesterol test, could be operated out of hospital pathology laboratories that already contain the necessary equipment.

It will reclassify a patient's risk of heart attack and stroke and will better identify who, within the "intermediate" risk category, are in fact at higher risk, and help guide physicians in the appropriate treatment of patients.

The team led by Professor Peter Meikle at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne identified plasma lipid biomarkers (fats in the blood) that improve upon traditional risk factors in predicting heart disease and stroke.

"We hope to identify those individuals who are at greatest risk of a second heart attack so that they can be closely monitored and treated accordingly," Meikle said.

"While there are thousands of lipids in the blood, our challenge is to identify which ones best predict disease outcomes," he noted.

The test, published in the journal JCI Insight, will use upto ten lipid markers to better diagnose heart disease.

"Once the protocols for a diagnostic heart disease blood test are in place, it will be possible for additional markers for the test to also be used in predicting diabetes and potentially Alzheimer's disease as well," Meikle said.

It was developed after a study looked at 10,000 samples to find the biomarkers that will determine whether a person is at risk of having another heart attack.

According to Meikle, the revolutionary test is proposed to be trialled in Australia over the next 2-3 years as part of a broader personalised precision health programme currently under development.