N

New Blood Test Doubles the Accuracy of Predicting Heart Attack and Stroke

Researchers and scientists have developed a new blood test that predicts if someone is at a high risk of heart failure, heart attack, or stroke within the next four years.

This new approach relies on protein measurements in the blood. Compared to similar tests and scoring already in the marketplace, this new technique is twice as accurate. That means people have more opportunities to adjust lifestyle habits that could cause premature death.

This information could enable doctors to determine if an existing medication regimen is working or if treatment plan changes are necessary. [1]

Dr. Stephen Williams at SomaLogic in Boulder, CO, led the research for this new test. “I think it is the new frontier of personalized medicine, to be able to answer the question if a person needs enhanced treatment,” he said. “And when you’ve treated someone, did it actually work?”

The test is already being used in four U.S.-based healthcare systems. Williams hopes that it will be introduced in the United Kingdom soon.

How Does the New Blood Test Create More Accurate Results?

Williams and his colleagues used machine learning technology to analyze 5,000 proteins in blood plasma samples. Nearly 23,000 people contributed to this research. [2]

The team was able to identify a signature of 27 specific proteins that could predict a four-year likelihood of heart failure, heart attack, stroke, or even death. This information was validated in over 11,000 people.

Results from the research work were published in Science. The results from this new test can predict an adverse health event with 60% accuracy.  [3]

Even if someone has already had a stroke or a heart attack, the new blood test provides accurate assessments for patients. Factors such as having an additional illness, taking medication to improve health, or other factors that could make prediction scores fall are accurately analyzed by this approach.

“There wouldn’t be an issue if everyone was the same,” said Williams. “The problem is that you can follow treatment guidelines and have some people go back to the same risks as a 30- or a 40-year old, whereas others have another event within the next year – and they look the same from the outside.”

Williams said that having the option to discriminate between those two people ensures that enhanced cardio-protective drugs can get to the patients that have unmet medical needs.

What Are the Risk Factors for a Heart Attack or Stroke?

In the United States alone, cardiovascular diseases cause the deaths of more than 859,000 people. That’s one out of every three deaths.

This issue delivers $216 billion annually in health care system costs, along with another $147 billion in lost productivity from premature death, permanent disability, or an inability to continue duties. [4]

High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke because damage occurs to the lining of the arteries. That makes them more susceptible to plaque buildup. About half of all American adults are believed to have this condition, which is defined as a reading of 130/80 or higher.

70% of people with a first heart attack and 80% of those with a first stroke have high blood pressure.

One of the leading causes of this issue involves eating too much sodium. High LDL cholesterol numbers are also significant contributors to adverse outcomes.

The tests offered by Williams and his team take these risk factors and others into account while looking at proteins in the blood to create a more accurate risk profile.

Proteins Are the Building Blocks of Our Body

Do you know if you’re at risk for a heart attack or stroke? Most people don’t know, or potentially don’t care, about their health screening scores.

Many tools take into account personal habits, such as the amount of exercise you get each week, family medical history, blood pressure, cholesterol test results, and other conditions. Those screening questions can identify potential red flags, but they don’t always capture the entire story of a person’s life.

The SomaLogic test provides measurements for about 25% of all the proteins that the human body encodes to its genes. That information has become possible because of emerging technologies that allow for better recognition, tracing, and measurement of them all.

Using the protein model with artificial intelligence helps medical professionals see what problems are developing now to catch adverse events earlier.

By having access to this enhanced data, doctors have new and better opportunities to assess risk factors in patients.

The future is not written in stone. Even with this new test, there are still four people out of every ten with higher risk factors that will beat the odds. The question that patients need to ask themselves is this: how often are you willing to gamble with your long-term health?

Several risk factors can be reduced by limiting sodium intake and getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. [5]

Although the testing has double the accuracy of future cardiac events, more research is necessary to assess the clinical impact of this information.

References:

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/apr/06/blood-test-predict-heart-attack-stroke-double-previous-accuracy; [2] https://gulfnews.com/special-reports/predict-a-heart-attack-with-60-accuracy-new-protein-test-could-tell-your-risk-1.1650037372150; [3]https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.abj9625; [4]https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/heart-disease-stroke.htm; [5]https://medlineplus.gov/howmuchexercisedoineed.html