A blood test that quickly and easily detects whether a person is at risk of a second heart attack is being developed by scientists at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.
The Baker Institute's head of metabolomics, Professor Peter Meikle and his team have identified plasma lipid biomarkers (fats in the blood) that improve upon traditional risk factors in predicting heart disease and stroke.
He says the revolutionary blood test is proposed to be trialed in Australia over the next 2-3 years as part of a broader personalized precision health program currently under development. Eventually, a GP will be able to order this test to better assess a patient's risk of developing heart disease.
The risk of a second heart attack
"The test was developed after a study looked at 10,000 samples to find the biomarkers that will determine whether a person is at risk of having another heart attack," said Prof Meikle.
"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. While there are thousands of lipids in the blood, our challenge is to identify which ones best predict disease outcomes," said Prof Meikle.
To date, a prototype of this test has been trained in America, yet the prototype only provides GP's and patients with limited information by 2 lipid markers, and it is not yet available in Australia.
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 Prof Meikle.
"Once the protocols for a diagnostic heart disease blood test are in place; it will be possible to add markers for the test to also be used in predicting diabetes and potentially Alzheimer's disease as well.
The test will reclassify a patient's risk of heart attack and stroke. It will better identify who within the 'intermediate' risk category is, at higher risk, and help guide physicians in the appropriate treatment of patients." The findings have been published in JCI Insight.