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Blood samples help detect hidden risk of future heart trouble

May 23, 2019

Woman practice CPR chest compressions on a dummy.

A protein that has commonly helped doctors diagnose a heart attack could also be used to help predict heart problems years in advance.

New research from Baylor University indicates that adding troponin I to a commonly used risk prediction model led to more accurate risk prediction for heart attack, stroke and heart failure hospitalization.

Troponin I “is strongly associated with increased global cardiovascular disease incidence in the general population independent of traditional risk factors,” the authors wrote in the journal Circulation. The work employs a “new high-sensitivity assay” that detects the protein in adults without prior cardiovascular disease or failure.

Biomarkers from blood samples can be ‘better predictors’ of heart disease

“We were interested in identifying biomarkers that may help individuals at risk of heart disease but who aren’t typically treated,” Dr. Christie Ballantyne, a study author and a professor of medicine and chief of the section of cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, told Healthline. “As you get middle-aged or older, what we’re seeing is biomarkers of cardiac injury, like troponin, are much better predictors than going by risk factors like cholesterol levels or blood pressure, which are much less informative past someone’s 60s and 70s,” he added.

According to Baylor, measurement of another protein, troponin T, which is also used commonly for the diagnosis of heart attack, provided additional information: Those with elevations of both biomarkers had an increased risk for cardiovascular disease events and death compared with those with elevated troponin I or troponin T alone.

“Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of pain, suffering and death in the United States, and despite tremendous advances in knowledge on prevention, treatment of risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure and obesity is not optimal,” Ballantyne said. “Improved methods to identify individuals who are at the highest risk are very important to personalize therapy so that the most intensive efforts for prevention are focused on the individuals at highest risk.”

The blood’s remarkable power to inform

This new high-sensitivity troponin I test is just one of the many recent advances in understanding patients’ health through the makeup of their blood. We’ve recently blogged here about the potential of blood testing, using biofluids, to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome, match patients to clinical trials, measure pain, and detect cancer

Blood is available to life sciences researchers through the iSpecimen Marketplace, and comes in a variety of forms, including, whole blood, plasma, serum, and buffy coat. Researchers can filter searches for biofluids and other human biospecimens— including tissue samples and viable cells— on a wide range of attributes, including blood type, disease condition and analyte as well as patient age, sex, ethnicity and more.

Who knows what blood will tell us next.

Learn about the iSpecimen Marketplace where you can browse millions of richly annotated, de-identified tissue and biofluid biospecimens or to request a quote or custom collection. You can join for free and creating a login is easy.

 

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