Clinicians at the University of Otago’s Christchurch Heart Institute and the National University of Singapore have found a way to find out if someone who has already had a heart attack is at risk of heart failure in the future.
The study involved 200 patients from Singapore and 500 from New Zealand who had experienced a heart attack.
The method combines two kinds of testing in blood and heart cells, resulting in fast identification of new blood markers flagging potential future heart failure.
Researcher and cardiologist Mark Richards said finding the precise biomarkers in the blood that indicate potential for future heart failure after a heart attack is like looking for a “needle in a haystack”.
The teams’ innovative method involved sifting through massive amounts of data to reveal six new, high priority indicators of heart failure in patients with a heart attack which will be further researched.
“First, Associate Professor Mark Chan and his team in Singapore applied plasma proteomics – a term used to describe high-throughput analysis of plasma proteins – using a highly sensitive technique.
“This made it possible to reliably detect more than a thousand proteins in the blood of each patient, despite some proteins having very low levels,” Dr Richards said.
Professor Richards said a second technology discovery was to cross-reference the proteins by analysing single heart cells one at a time, rather than the usual method of cells in bulk.
“Strong and reliable signals to identify those patients who may be unfortunate enough to incur heart failure following their heart attack, remains an urgent need.”
Richards said it is hoped the new discovery can help those identified as high-risk get the right protective treatment to prevent heart failure.