The National Heart and Lung Institute has said that an extra blood test performed on suspected heart-attack patients could determine if they are at a higher risk of dying in the next three years. The diagnostic tool would search for the C-reactive protein (CRP), helps detect inflammation and is already in use in clinical settings for detection of other diseases.
The test could be utilised in suspected cases of heart-attack in order to mark out those in need of “more aggressive treatment and closer monitoring”. Doctors currently test for the troponin protein, but the CRP test has now been recommended as it provides a clearer picture of heart damage and risk of death in heart-attack patients.
In addition to these findings, researchers now hope to test the anti-inflammatory drug colchicine – found to be “effective against atherosclerosis, a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries that increases the chance of a heart attack – on patients with high CRP levels”.
According to national statistics, every five minutes, someone is admitted to a UK hospital with a heart attack, and it is estimated that there are 1.4 million people in the UK who have survived a heart attack.
Prof James Leiper, from the British Heart Foundation, called the test a “valuable new tool”. Cardiologist and the lead researcher said: “It may get proposed for consideration to be included in future European Society of Cardiologists or NICE guidelines, which would take all the data into account before issuing a recommendation for its routine use.”