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Test could help identify heart attack patients at highest risk

New approach could mean better treatments for heart disease

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 08 February 2018

A new blood test could help explain why some patients are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease after suffering a heart attack, suggests a study* published today in the European Heart Journal.

The study by researchers at the University of Sheffield could help scientists identify new targets for reducing the risk and eventually lead to more effective treatments.

For the study, the team of researchers led by Professor Rob Storey from the university’s Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease, analysed blood plasma samples from 4,354 patients with acute coronary syndrome as they were discharged from hospital.

They measured the maximum density of a clot and the time it took for the clot to break down (clot lysis time).

After they took into account known clinical characteristics and risk factors, the study found that the patients with the longest clot lysis time had a 40% higher risk of recurrent heart attack or death due to cardiovascular disease.

The results showed novel therapies targeting fibrin clot lysis time could improve prognosis in patients with acute coronary syndrome.

Professor Storey, who is also academic director and an honorary consultant in the cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery directorate at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have made huge strides over the last two decades in improving prognosis following heart attacks but there is still plenty of room for further improvement.

“Our findings provide exciting clues as to why some patients are at higher risk after heart attack and how we might address this with new treatments in the future.

“We now need to press ahead with exploring possibilities for tailoring treatment to an individual’s risk following a heart attack and testing whether drugs that improve clot lysis time can reduce this risk.”

*Storey, R et al. Fibrin Clot Properties Independently Predict Adverse Clinical Outcome Following Acute Coronary Syndrome: A PLATO substudy. European Heart Journal. DOI:10.1093/eurheartj/ehy013.

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