Lifespan researcher develops first blood test to predict risk of sudden cardiac death

April 2, 2014

A researcher at the Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) at Rhode Island, The Miriam and Newport hospitals has found that a simple blood test can predict a person's risk for sudden cardiac death, enabling physicians to more quickly and accurately assess a patient's need for an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD). That paper by Samuel C. Dudley, M.D., Ph.D, chief of cardiology at the CVI, is published online in advance of print in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"This is the first test of its kind; never before have clinicians been able to accurately assess a patient's risk of sudden cardiac death by performing a blood test," Dudley said. "The primary prevention model for at-risk patients in the U.S. is to implant an ICD before a cardiac event happens. While it's better to be safe, this has led to widespread overuse of ICDs throughout the U.S. and abroad."

Dudley continued, "With this blood test, we can refine the need for such a device, and instead implant the cardiac defibrillators only in the most severe cases of risk."

Currently, risk assessments are determined by measuring the fraction of blood ejected from the heart in any one heartbeat, the ejection fraction. When the falls below 35 percent, a patient may benefit from an ICD. It is believed that approximately 60 percent of patients who receive defibrillators as a result of these assessments may not actually need one. This blood test will determine more accurately which patients do in fact need the defibrillator.

The new blood test is in a pilot phase and will be validated in a large, multi-site trial led by Dudley and other researchers at Lifespan's CVI anticipated to start this fall.

"Health care is much more advanced here, but in developing countries, doctors wait until a person has survived a cardiac event before implanting a defibrillator – and only 10 percent survive the initial event," Dudley said. "But with a blood test, patients could be easily tested before an event and be implanted with an ICD, if appropriate."

Dudley continued, "It's sort of a double-edged sword.— With current mechanisms in place, we can't be sure that a patient needs an ICD, but if we believe the risk to be present, it would be irresponsible not to implant an ICD that could save the patient's life. If the next trial proves what we believe to be true, this will serve as a much more appropriate and cost-effective tool to measure risk."

Sudden cardiac death is an unexpected death caused by loss of heart function, or sudden . It is the most common cause of natural death in the U.S., resulting in approximately 325,000 adult deaths in the U.S. each year.

Explore further: Cardiovascular Institute researcher: Cancer drug may lower sudden cardiac death risk

Related Stories

Cardiovascular Institute researcher: Cancer drug may lower sudden cardiac death risk

February 24, 2014
A researcher at the Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) at Rhode Island, The Miriam and Newport hospitals has found that a new class of drugs, originally developed to treat cancer, reduces sudden cardiac death risk after a heart ...

Unfolded protein response contributes to sudden death in heart failure

December 2, 2013
A researcher at the Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) at Rhode Island, The Miriam and Newport hospitals has found a link to human heart failure that if blocked, may reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death. The paper, written ...

Nocturnal respiratory rate predicts cardiac risk after MI

March 10, 2014
(HealthDay)—Among survivors of acute myocardial infarction (MI), nocturnal respiratory rate (NRR) is significantly associated with cardiac mortality, particularly non-sudden cardiac death, according to research published ...

Cardiac resynchronization improves survival in heart failure patients

March 31, 2014
Patients in mild heart failure who receive a specialized pacemaker known as cardiac resynchronization therapy with a defibrillator (CRT-D) may live longer than those implanted with a traditional implantable cardioverter defibrillator ...

Novel blood test predicts sudden death risk patients who would benefit from ICDs

August 27, 2012
A novel blood test that predicts sudden death risk in heart failure patients is set to help physicians decide which patients would benefit from implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). The findings were presented at ...

Study: Majority of patients who qualify for lifesaving heart treatment do not receive it

September 24, 2013
A new study of patients who died of sudden cardiac arrest, a usually fatal condition that causes the heart to stop beating, shows the majority who qualified to receive potentially lifesaving treatment did not receive it.

Recommended for you

Could aggressive blood pressure treatments lead to kidney damage?

July 18, 2017
Aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be damaging the organs, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests.

Quantifying effectiveness of treatment for irregular heartbeat

July 17, 2017
In a small proof-of-concept study, researchers at Johns Hopkins report a complex mathematical method to measure electrical communications within the heart can successfully predict the effectiveness of catheter ablation, the ...

Concerns over side effects of statins stopping stroke survivors taking medication

July 17, 2017
Negative media coverage of the side effects associated with taking statins, and patients' own experiences of taking the drugs, are among the reasons cited by stroke survivors and their carers for stopping taking potentially ...

Study discovers anticoagulant drugs are being prescribed against safety advice

July 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham has shown that GPs are prescribing anticoagulants to patients with an irregular heartbeat against official safety advice.

Protein may protect against heart attack

July 14, 2017
DDK3 could be used as a new therapy to stop the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries

Heart study finds faulty link between biomarkers and clinical outcomes

July 14, 2017
Surrogate endpoints (biomarkers), which are routinely used in clinical research to test new drugs, should not be trusted as the ultimate measure to approve new health interventions in cardiovascular medicine, according to ...

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.