Blood test can predict heart disease risk
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new test that can help predict if a person is at risk for coronary heart disease, even if they have no history of heart problems. The test has been found to be more effective in predicting heart problems for women than for men, particularly black women.
The test, called the PLAC Test, measures the activity of Lp-PLA2, an enzyme that is an indicator of vascular inflammation, which can be a sign of plaque accumulation in the arteries. This buildup can clog arteries and cause heart disease.
FDA research included 4,598 people ages 45 to 92 with no history of coronary heart disease. Nearly 60 percent were women and 42 percent were black. The study showed that 7 percent of people with high Lp-PLA2 activity experienced a coronary heart disease event, such as a heart attack, compared to only 3.3 percent of people with lower Lp-PLA2 activity. Once the data was analyzed, researchers found that women with higher Lp-PLA2 activity had a higher rate of heart disease events than men and that black women experienced a higher rate of heart disease events than other subgroups with a similar level Lp-PLA2 activity.
One in four American women die from heart disease, with 64 percent of women having no previous symptoms. The FDA hopes that the test can help health care professionals identify patients before they experience a serious problem, including a heart attack.