New blood test to confirm heart attacks within minutes

September 10th, 2008 - 12:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 10 (IANS) A new blood test will enable doctors to confirm heart attacks within minutes, instead of hours, prompting immediate treatment that could minimise damage to heart muscle. A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT investigators reported a new technique that measures hundreds of molecular markers in the blood that can identify those released when cardiac tissue is injured by a lack of oxygen.

“Right now there are no blood markers for reversible myocardial injury (caused by a clot that stops blood flow in a heart artery) in clinical use, and the only available markers are not detectable until hours after the onset of tissue damage,” said the study’s co-author Robert Gerszten, from the MGH Division of Cardiology and Centre for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases.

“Because our treatments for heart attacks are most effective in the first hours after symptoms occur, these newly identified markers could help us apply treatments sooner and help more patients,” Gerszten added.

The results of the study will appear in the October Journal of Clinical Investigation and has been released online.

Every metabolic activity in the body results in the production of metabolites, molecules released in very minute quantities. Hundreds of them are present in a blood sample that could provide a chemical snapshot of an individual’s health status.

But the technology to assess metabolite levels is in the early stages, as is the understanding of their significance. For instance, how much metabolite levels normally vary between healthy individuals and factors that influence those variations is still unknown.

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