Heart Attack :: Test may identify heart attack, stroke risk

An inexpensive blood test may identify which heart disease patients are at the highest risk of a stroke or heart attack, allowing doctors to move more aggressively to help them. “We are very good in this country at diagnosing heart disease,” said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, of the University of California-San Francisco, lead author of the study.

“But we`re not very good at distinguishing who`s at high risk for future problems and starting them on preventive therapies. This test could make all the difference,” she added. The study, published in this week`s Journal of the American Medical Association, involved nearly 1,000 people who were followed for over three years. The blood test measured a combination of amino acids called NT-proBNP related to heart function.

The researchers found that heart disease patients with the highest levels of the substance had nearly eight times the risk of stroke, heart attack or heart failure as did those with the lowest levels. About 71 million people in the United States alone have one or more forms of heart disease, and the test would cost from $20 to $40, according to information provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which sponsored the study along with the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

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