LONDON: Scientists have developed a new way to calculate a person’s 10-year risk for heart disease by analysing their blood, a method which has greater precision than identifying traditional risk factors alone.
When someone visits their general practitioner, they can get their blood analysed for cholesterol and triglycerides, to get an idea of their risk for cardiovascular disease.
With additional information about Body Mass Index (BMI), smoking habits and blood pressure, this can be used to calculate their 10-year risk for cardiovascular disease, according to researchers from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
There are several risk prediction calculators available today.
However, the use of risk prediction calculators has declined in the primary care setting because the currently available calculators only explain a modest proportion of the incidence, researchers said.
For myocardial infarction, it is estimated that 15-20 per cent of the patients had none of the traditional risk factors and would be classified as “low risk,” they said.
“Our study showed that by measuring a combination of five different microRNAs and adding this information to the traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, we could identify those that were going to experience a myocardial infarction with considerably improved precision,” said Anja Bye from NTNU.
There have been several attempts during the last years to improve the risk prediction calculators by adding new bio markers.
Some calculators add information of an inflammation marker in blood called CRP (C-reactive protein) or a diabetic marker called HbA1c (glycosylated hemoglobin), researchers said.
This increases the accuracy of the calculators, but still there is a need for new cardiovascular bio markers that could complement the assessment of traditional risk factors, to identify the individuals at risk with greater precision than today, they said.
It was based on this that researchers designed this study to explore the possibility of a new type of bio marker called circulating microRNAs, to predict 10-year risk for myocardial infarction.
They included 212 healthy participants (40-70 years) from the Nord-Trondelag Health Study 2 (HUNT2, blood collected in 1996) that either died from myocardial infarction within 10 years or remained healthy at the time of HUNT3 (2006).
As many as 179 different microRNAs were quantified in blood samples from these participants.
The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology.