A Blood Test For Heart Disease: Would You Want to Know?

BlogHer Original Post

Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States? It's true. And even though it seems to kill in an instant, it's actually a chronic illness that can sneak up on you without any warning at all. But what if there was a way to know that you were at a greater risk of dying from heart disease? Would you want to know? In the case of heart disease, knowing could actually save your life.

It sounds like science fiction, but it may soon become a medical reality. There's a new blood test that could change the way people are diagnosed with heart disease, and it could even make the diagnosis long before a patient has any symptoms. It's actually not totally new, it's just a more sensitive version of a blood test already being used in emergency rooms to confirm whether or not a person is having a heart attack.

Here's more information about the new blood test from Yahoo Health.

"This test is among the most powerful predictors of death in the general population we've seen so far," said James de Lemos, associate professor of internal medicine at University of Texas Southwestern and lead author of the study.

"It appears that the higher your troponin T, the more likely you are to have problems with your heart, and the worse you're going to do, regardless of your other risk factors."

"People with detectable levels of troponin T were nearly seven times more likely to die within six years from heart disease," added the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It's scary stuff, but knowing this scary stuff early could ultimately be what saves lives.

I see this new blood test as incredibly exciting news because there is so much we can do both with lifestyle changes and medicine to reduce heart disease. Early knowledge of a risk that we can't control could become a big incentive to work on risk factors that we can control.

From Science Daily:

"Because this test seems to identify cardiovascular problems that were previously unrecognized, we hope in the future to be able to use it to prevent some death and disability from heart failure and other cardiac diseases," Dr. de Lemos said.

Unfortunately, it's too soon to be able to go to your doctor and get this new blood test, but it could become available very soon. More good news -- The new blood test is relatively inexpensive, so it has the potential of becoming a great diagnostic tool for doctors and a possible life-saver for patients.

Here are some facts about heart disease and women that might surprise and even shock you.

  • Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease and the gap between men and women’s survival continues to widen.
  • 42% of women who have heart attacks die within 1 year, compared to 24% of men.
  • Under age 50, women’s heart attacks are twice as likely as men’s to be fatal.
  • Nearly two-thirds of the deaths from heart attacks in women occur among those who have no history of chest pain.
  • Women who smoke risk having a heart attack 19 years earlier than non-smoking women.
  • Marital stress worsens the prognosis in women with heart disease.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to die within the first few weeks after suffering a heart attack.
  • Women's hearts respond better than men's to healthy lifestyle changes, yet only 2 percent of the NIH budget is dedicated to prevention.
  • Women comprise only 24% of participants in all heart-related studies.

What do you think about this new blood test? Would you want to know if you were at a high risk of death due to heart disease? Would knowledge of something like this cause you to make healthier lifestyle choices? Would you quit smoking? Eat healthier? Let us know your thoughts in comments.

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
Also at Catherine-Morgan.com

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