Blood test identifies people at risk for heart attack that other tests miss

April 19, 2010, Oregon Health & Science University

A simple blood test can identify people who are at risk for a heart attack, including thousands who don't have high cholesterol, according to researchers at Oregon Health & Science University.

The new test measures gamma-prime fibrinogen, a component of the blood's clotting mechanism. Elevated levels indicate greater likelihood of a heart attack, even when other signs don't point to cardiovascular trouble, says David H. Farrell, Ph.D., professor of pathology in the OHSU School of Medicine and a member of OHSU's Heart Research Center. The results were recently published in Clinical Chemistry.

"Half a million people suffer fatal heart attacks each year," Farrell says. "About 250,000 of the patients who die have normal and some of the patients with normal cholesterol also have elevated levels of gamma-prime fibrinogen. We think this is another risk factor that we should test for."

Farrell and his team confirmed the effectiveness of the gamma-prime fibrinogen test by analyzing 3,400 blood samples from the landmark Framingham Heart Study, the oldest and most prestigious cardiovascular disease study in the world. In addition, OHSU's analysis of the Framingham samples found that patients with well-established heart attack risk factors, including cholesterol, high body mass index, smoking and diabetes also have elevated gamma-prime fibrinogen levels.

"We found that if your gamma-prime fibrinogen levels were in the top 25 percent, you had seven times greater odds of having coronary artery disease," Farrell says.

A small pilot study in 2002 gave OHSU researchers their first inkling that gamma-prime fibrinogen might be linked to heart disease. They obtained the Framingham samples - which are rarely shared - and proved the link. The next step is using the test at several hospitals and medical centers to demonstrate it works on a large scale.

"It will take some time to build consensus within the field of cardiology for this test," Farrell says. "The gamma-prime fibrinogen test would be used in conjunction with a cholesterol test to better predict who is likely to suffer a . Ultimately we are optimistic we can identify people who are at risk who didn't know they are at risk."

OHSU has filed a provisional patent application for a gamma-prime fibrinogen test. Farrell and his colleagues also have formed a company called Gamma Therapeutics, Inc. to mass-produce the assay. OHSU has a process in place to review and manage the individual and institutional conflicts of interest that may arise through its start-up companies.

The gamma-prime fibrinogen research was sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Fabric imbued with optical fibers helps fight skin diseases

February 23, 2018
A team of researchers with Texinov Medical Textiles in France has announced that their PHOS-ISTOS system, called the Fluxmedicare, is on track to be made commercially available later this year. The system consists of a piece ...

DNA gets away: Scientists catch the rogue molecule that can trigger autoimmunity

February 22, 2018
A research team has discovered the process - and filmed the actual moment - that can change the body's response to a dying cell. Importantly, what they call the 'Great Escape' moment may one day prove to be the crucial trigger ...

Low-calorie diet enhances intestinal regeneration after injury

February 22, 2018
Dramatic calorie restriction, diets reduced by 40 percent of a normal calorie total, have long been known to extend health span, the duration of disease-free aging, in animal studies, and even to extend life span in most ...

Artificial intelligence quickly and accurately diagnoses eye diseases and pneumonia

February 22, 2018
Using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, researchers at Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health and University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in China, Germany and Texas, ...

Gut microbes protect against sepsis—mouse study

February 22, 2018
Sepsis occurs when the body's response to the spread of bacteria or toxins to the bloodstream damages tissues and organs. The fight against sepsis could get a helping hand from a surprising source: gut bacteria. Researchers ...

Fertility breakthrough: New research could extend egg health with age

February 22, 2018
Women have been told for years that if they don't have children before their mid-30s, they may not be able to. But a new study from Princeton University's Coleen Murphy has identified a drug that extends egg viability in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.