New blood test predicts heart trouble years ahead

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Washington, Dec 8 (ANI): Scientists have discovered that a more sensitive version of a blood test, typically used to confirm that someone is having a heart attack, could indicate whether a seemingly healthy, middle-aged person has unrecognized heart disease and an increased risk of dying.

UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers found that a new, highly sensitive test for a protein called cardiac troponin T (cTnT) could detect the protein in about 25 percent of blood samples supplied by more than 3,500 individuals.

The study also found that people with detectable levels of troponin T were nearly seven times more likely to die within six years from heart disease.

"It appears that the higher your troponin T, the more likely you are to have problems with your heart, and the worse you're going to do, regardless of your other risk factors," said James de Lemos, lead author of the study.

The more sensitive test, however, can detect circulating cTnT levels in almost everyone with chronic heart failure and chronic coronary artery disease.

Lemos said the ability to detect lower levels of the protein could make emergency room physicians rethink the interpretation of the cTnT level.

The current work with cTnT built on previous findings by Lemos from the Dallas Heart Study, a groundbreaking investigation of cardiovascular disease that first involved more than 6,100 Dallas County residents.

To determine if newer, more sensitive technology could detect cTnT at lower levels, researchers used the same population of residents.

Starting in the year 2000, more than 3,500 participants provided blood samples and underwent multiple body scans with magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography to examine the heart and other organs.

Researchers then tracked the cause and time of death of participants, ages 30 to 65, through 2007.

The study appeared in the Dec. 8 print issue of the Journal of he American Medical Association. (ANI)

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