The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just approved a new blood test that may help doctors gauge the risk a person may have of developing future coronary heart disease occurrences, such as heart attacks.
Heart attacks as a result of coronary heart disease are the leading cause of death in the United States and are common in both men and women. The CDC reports that nearly 26.6 million people living in the United States have been diagnosed with heart disease, leading to researchers working to find a means of tackling the condition before it starts.
Over a period of five years, the U.S. National Institutes of Health tracked approximately 4,500 people between the ages of 45 and 92 with no prior heart disease history that experienced a heart disease-related event to compile data.
Tracking a lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) in a patient’s blood, researchers were able to determine that participants with test results higher than 225 nmol/min/mL had a coronary heart disease event rate of 7 percent, while patients with test results below that level had a event rate of 3.3 percent.
In addition to the overall results, the FDA requested that researchers also examine a subgroup made up of African-American women, which showed that women of this group experienced a higher rate of coronary heart disease events than other participants when Lp-PLA2levels were higher than 225 nmol/min/mL.
Doctors can now add the new approved blood test, called the PLAC Test for Lp-PLA2 Activity, to their heart disease-detection arsenal. Currently, tests measuring cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart rate are common practice to measure risks associated with the condition. These tests are accurate, but aren’t always able to give doctors vital information about the patient’s possible future development of the disease. By adding the PLAC Test, doctors will be able to detect the risk of the disease in people that show otherwise healthy test results, leading to the possible prevention of experiencing a life-threatening event such as a heart attack.
The new commercially available version of the test will mean that doctors will have better access to the technology and will be more likely to use it, providing potentially life-saving information to the patient.
Being approved by the FDA also means that the test is reimbursable by insurance companies, something that will go a long way in ensuring that patients are getting the information that they need to stay healthy and possibly avoid the condition altogether.
While coronary heart disease may not be eradicated, awareness and new advances in medical technology such as the PLAC Test go a long way in reducing the number of lives lost due to the illness.