Blood Test May Diagnose Heart Attack

Pending heart attack may be identified from a protein

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Scientists have found a biomarker which has allowed them to preliminarily develop a blood test that may be able to diagnose a heart attack by detecting a protein released in the blood.

After a heart attack, a large protein specific to the heart called cardiac myosin binding protein-C (cMyBP-C) is released into the blood, which could be used to detect heart attacks.

"Go to the hospital immediately if experiencing heart attack symptoms."

Sakthivel Sadayappan, senior author and an assistant professor in the department of cell and molecular physiology from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine called the blood test "only the beginning," and said the test could become the basis for a new test used in conjunction with other blood tests to diagnose heart attacks. He noted that additional studies will be needed to establish cMyBP-C as a true biomarker for heart attacks.

Up to 70 percent of patients who complain of chest pains are not having heart attacks. However, many of them are admitted to hospitals at considerable time and expense until a heart attack is ruled out.

An electrocardiogram can be used to diagnose major heart attacks, but not minor ones. Blood tests to detect proteins can be used to detect a heart attack, but most do not detect proteins specific to the heart. High protein levels, however, do not only detect heart attacks and could pick up more minor health problems such as a muscle injury.

Only one protein used in blood tests, called cardiac troponin-I, is specific to the heart. But this protein might now show up in the blood for up to six hours.

During the study, researchers evaluated blood samples from heart attack patients, and also rats that had experienced heart attacks. In both humans and rats, cMyBP-C was elevated significantly following heart attacks. The protein may be easily detectable in blood because of  its high concentration in the blood and because of its large molecular size.

When a heart attack occurs, the coronary artery is blocked and heart muscle cells start dying from lack of blood flow and oxygen. As the cells die cMyPB-C breaks into fragments and is released into the blood.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology.

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Review Date: 
September 25, 2011
Last Updated:
September 26, 2011