A blood test that quickly and easily detects whether a person is at the risk of a secondary heart attack is being developed by scientists. The researchers at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia have identified plasma lipid biomarkers (fats in the blood) that improve upon traditional risk factors in predicting heart disease and stroke.
The blood test is proposed to be trialled in Australia over the next 2-3 years, said Peter Meikle, a professor Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.
Eventually this test will help better assess a patient's risk of developing heart disease, he said.
The study, published in the journal JCI Insight, looked at 10,000 samples to find the biomarkers that will determine whether a person is at the risk of having another heart attack.
"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 said.
To date, a prototype of this test has been trailed in America, yet the prototype only provides limited information on the basis of two lipid markers, researchers said.
The test will be a simple blood test, similar to the process and cost of having a cholesterol test, and could be operated out of hospital pathology laboratories that already contain the necessary equipment.
"Our test will use up to ten lipid markers to better diagnose heart disease. It's a challenging, yet very exciting time. We effectively have the information and are in the process of refining the technology," said Meikle.