Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bloodstream Analysis To Identify Cardiovascular Disease

Blood Analysis to Detect Heart Disease

For more than half a century, medical professionals have used blood tests to help detect the presence---or predict the likelihood---of heart disease in their patients. As these tests have become more sophisticated and sensitive, they have become a valuable diagnostic tool and even more accurate tests are in development.

Lipoprotein Panel

This blood test offers doctors a reading on cholesterol levels, which can be helpful in predicting a patient's risk for heart disease, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The panel provides a snapshot of total cholesterol; low-density lipoproteins (LDL), the so-called bad cholesterol; high-density lipoproteins (HDL), or good cholesterol; and triglycerides, another form of fat in the blood.

C-Reactive Protein

Elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood are a sign of inflammation somewhere in the body. The NHLBI points out that the standard CRP test is often ordered to check for autoimmune disorders or inflammation. The test has been used in combination with other tests to assess heart disease risk. A more recent advance on this test is called the high-sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP) test, which picks up on lower levels of CRP in the blood and theoretically could provide an early warning of future cardiac trouble.


Homocysteine is an amino acid present in the blood. The American Heart Association reports that abnormally high levels of homocysteine are related to an increased risk of heart disease, peripheral artery disease and stroke.

Blood Enzyme Tests

Creatine kinase (CK) and troponin are enzymes found at high levels in the blood of people who are having heart attacks. Since chest pain and some of the other symptoms of heart attack can be caused by a variety of factors, doctors test the level of these enzymes in the blood to help determine if the problem is heart-related. Elevated levels of CK indicate recent damage to muscles in the body; a subset of CK is CK-MB, which is tied specifically to the heart muscle. If a heart attack is suspected, blood tests for these enzyme levels---total CK, CK-MB and troponin---are likely to be ordered.

New Developments

An August 2009 NEJM article reported that trials on new blood tests for enzyme levels, specifically troponin, were more sensitive and accurate than those previously used. The new blood tests, developed by Abbott Laboratories, Roche and Siemens AG, were subjected to large-scale testing in separate German and Swiss studies, according to an Associated Press report. Both studies found the new tests to be 94 percent to 96 percent accurate, compared with an accuracy level of 85 percent to 90 percent for the older tests.

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