A new blood test may be able to tell whether a seemingly healthy person is at risk of dying from heart disease.
An older, less sensitive version of the test detects a certain protein in only a small percentage of people, but a study of the newer test made by Roche found it in about 25 percent of 3,500 blood samples.
And people who had detectable levels of the protein, released by damaged heart muscle, were nearly seven times more likely to die of heart disease within six years.
Both tests look for a protein called cardiac troponin T, which indicates muscle damage in the heart, but the newer test called Elecsys Troponin T is 10 times more sensitive.
“This test is among the most powerful predictors of death in the general population we’ve seen so far,” said Dr. James de Lemos of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Currently, tests that look for troponin T are used in emergency departments to see if a person with chest pain is having a heart attack.