Cheap blood test which can predict your risk of a heart attack TEN YEARS in advance
A cheap blood test can accurately predict an adult’s risk of suffering a heart attack a decade in advance.
Doctors in A&E units across the UK already use troponin tests to examine if a patient has experienced a heart attack.
But health watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), has now approved them as a predictive test.
Doctors in A&E units across the UK already use troponin tests to examine if a patient has experienced a heart attack
The tests, proven to be 100 per cent accurate in scientific trials, have been included in Nice’s accelerated access programme.
This fast-tracks the tests, meaning they could be rolled out across the NHS and offered in the midlife MOTs in the next few years.
Current 10-year heart attack predictions are based on a tool called QRISK, which jots up several risk factors, including lifestyle, age and weight.
But the newly approved test measures for proteins in the blood called troponins, released by damaged heart cells.
Professor Nick Mills, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh, who has led trials of the tests, praised its effectiveness in an interview with The Times.
He said: ‘The technology to measure troponin in the bloodstream has got so good that it is no longer just useful for measuring in people with large amounts of injury to the heart.
‘It can still do that, and very well, but now it can measure troponin in everybody it is telling us about more than whether you have had a heart attack or not.
‘It is telling us about your heart health more generally.’
Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, praised the move by Nice.
He said the charity hoped doctors would ‘be able to use this simple test earlier on to identify people at higher risk of suffering from a heart attack’.
Experts hope the test could offer thousands of middle-aged adults a wake-up call if it is eventually added to the free NHS midlife MOT.
The ‘midlife MOT’, which was launched back in 2009, has faced criticism for failing to show it improves health or saves substantial numbers of lives.
But if the new troponin-based tests are added, it could improve the accuracy of the tests, offered once every five years to adults between 40 and 74 in England.
Professor Mills told The Times: ‘Even if this isn’t yet part of everyone’s health check, it perhaps will be in the future.’
It comes after a University of Texas study in August found the simple blood test was safe and effective.
Cardiologists behind the trial revealed they did not miss any heart attacks using the test in the study of more than 500 people.
WHAT CAN MEASURING TROPONIN LEVELS IN THE BLOOD SHOW?
Measuring cardiac troponin levels in the blood allows doctors to diagnose a heart attack or other heart-related conditions more effectively – and provide immediate treatment.
In healthy people, troponin levels are low enough to be undetectable.
If you’ve experienced chest pain but troponin levels are still low 12 hours after the chest pain started the possibility of a heart attack in unlikely.
High levels are an immediate red flag. Troponin levels can elevate within three to four hours after the heart has been damaged and can remain high for up to 14 days.
Troponin levels are measured in nanograms per milliliter. Normal levels fall below the 99th percentile in the blood test.
If troponin results are above this level, it may be an indication of heart damage or heart attack.