New Blood Test Can Predict a Heart Attack Within 5 Years

laboratory testing
Science & Medicine

Researchers from Imperial College London and University College London have found that “high levels of antibodies – molecules produced by the immune system – are linked to a low risk of heart problems,” even in people who have other risk factors. The team has developed a new test that looks for levels of protective immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies, which appear to guard against a heart attack even when a patient has hypertension and high cholesterol.

I found out I had diabetes at a fairly young age, in my early 20’s. Both type 1 and type 2 run in my family; but I was still young enough to believe I was invincible, so I blew off the diagnosis. I continued to live as an overeating couch potato for many years, all while going untreated for the disease.

Hearing a doctor say, “Diabetes causes heart disease and stroke” didn’t do much for me. It wasn’t until another doctor told me I was “a walking heart attack or stroke” that I realized, hey, this is serious. 

I might have acted even faster, had my doctor done blood work that offered unequivocal proof that I would sustain a major adverse health event within 5 years. Such a test didn’t exist at the time; but it does now, and it might be the cheap go-to test for at-risk patients in the near future.

The Simple Test Could Help Protect Countless Individuals

The minds behind this new test found that people with the highest number of antibodies had a 58% lower risk of coronary heart disease or heart disease, as well as a 38% lower risk of having a stroke or other heart events during the test’s trial period.

Over 1,700 people who were at risk of heart problems participated in the Anglo Scandinavian Outcomes Trial (ASCOT). During the 5.5-year trial period, 470 participants had a heart attack or stroke. These patients were compared with a control group of 1,283 people to determine what was different.

Dr. Ramzi Khamis, consultant cardiologist at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, said:

“Linking a stronger, more robust immune system to protection from heart attacks is a really exciting finding.

As well as improving the way we tell who is at the highest risk of a heart attack so that we can give them appropriate treatments, we now have a new avenue to follow in future work.

We hope that we can use this new finding to study the factors that lead some people to have an immune system that helps protect from heart attacks, while others don’t. We also hope to explore ways of strengthening the immune system to aid in protecting from heart disease.” [1]

In the UK, coronary heart disease is the single biggest killer, and it is the leading cause of death worldwide.

The IgG measurement test is easy and very inexpensive, so the researchers suggest doctors could use it in the future to more accurately predict a person’s heart attack risk. This could mean fewer needless prescriptions for statins and beta-blockers, and more patients being able to quit their medications.

People with healthy IgG levels have immune systems strong enough to not need the drugs. That would be a great development, as statins are linked to 300 different adverse effects, and beta-blockers have been found to double heart attack risk in people undergoing major surgery. [2]

FYI, more and more research shows that high cholesterol is not the main cause of heart attack. This study, for example, showed that if you’re an egg lover, you don’t have to worry about clogged arteries and heart problems. In fact, if your cholesterol is too low, that can be dangerous.



[1] Daily Mail

[2] The Telegraph