Researchers from the University of Sheffield have shown that a new blood test could provide a clue as to why some patients are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease risk after suffering a heart attack. The study findings published in the European Heart Journal.

The research may help scientists to identify new targets for reducing the risk and eventually lead to more effective treatments. During the study, the team of researchers, led by Professor Rob Storey from the University of Sheffield's Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease, analyzed blood plasma samples from more than 4,300 patients with acute coronary syndrome as they were discharged from the hospital.

The team of researchers measured the maximum density of a clot and the time it took for the clot to break down – known as clot lysis time. After adjustment for known clinical characteristics and risk factors, the study found that the patients with the longest clot lysis time had a 40% increased risk of recurrent myocardial infarction or death due to cardiovascular disease.

Professor Storey, who is also Academic Director and an Honorary Consultant in the Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery Directorate at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We have made huge strides over the last two decades in improving prognosis following heart attacks but there is still plenty of room for further improvement.

Professor Storey added that we now need to press ahead with exploring possibilities for tailoring treatment to an individual's risk following a heart attack and testing whether drugs that improve clot lysis time can reduce this risk.

The study findings provide exciting clues as to why some patients are at higher risk after a heart attack and how the researchers might address this with new treatments in the future. The results showed novel therapies targeting fibrin clot lysis time may improve prognosis in patients with the acute coronary syndrome.