The US-developed test is estimated to be twice as accurate as previous tests in predicting heart problems and strokes over the next four years. The test is currently available in four healthcare systems in the US, and it is hoped it will be approved for UK-use soon.
It works by measuring the levels of proteins in the blood, with scientists particularly interested in identifying the 27 proteins that most accurately predict the risk of death or illness by heart problems or stroke over a four-year period.
This research provides several benefits in addition to flagging severe health risks. The results can allow doctors to better tailor patients’ medicines to counter risks and speed up the delivery of novel drugs through improved monitoring of treatment effectiveness at the clinical trial stage.
The test is also an improvement on current tests due to its ability to more precisely assess risk in individuals who have previously had heart attacks and strokes or currently suffer from additional illnesses and are taking medication to combat the risks. Past tests have often provided this group with a less accurate prediction of risk.
Professor Manuel Mayr, the British Heart Foundation professor of cardiovascular proteomics at King’s College London, said:
“Proteins are the building blocks of our body. This study provides measurements for a quarter of all proteins that are encoded by our genes, which has become possible because of emerging, new technologies that allow measurement of thousands of proteins and offers new opportunities to assess risk in patients”.