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Test developed that predicts heart attacks before they happen

Professor Peter Kuhn and colleagues at the Scripps Research Institute in California announced the successful development of a very specific and accurate test that can determine if a person is going to have a heart attack before the person actually has a heart attack in the Jan. 9, 2014, edition of the journal Physical Biology.

A myocardial infarction occurs when an atherosclerotic plaque slowly builds up in the inner lining of a coronary artery and then suddenly ruptures.
Blausen Medical Communications, Inc. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

The new "fluid biopsy" technique works by identifying circulating endothelial cells (CECs) in a person’s blood stream. CECs are produced when plaques on the lining of the walls of arteries rupture.

The researchers compared the level of CECs between 79 people that had recently experienced a heart attack and 25 people that were healthy and had no history of heart disease or arterial plaque deposits.

The number of CECs was found to be highly elevated in people that had experienced a heart attack compared to people that had no symptoms of any heart or arterial disease.

The researchers compared their trial results with the results from the present FDA approved method of detecting CECs and found a much higher level of specificity in the new test method.

The researchers plan trials with people that have a potential to experience a heart attack in an effort to predict heart attacks before they happen and begin treatment that prevents heart attacks.