September 24, 2012
Could blood tests pick up early ‘silent’ heart disease?
Researchers we fund have shown that a combination of blood
tests could detect ‘silent’ heart disease – low-level damage to the
heart without obvious symptoms.
A team of scientists at the University of Dundee, led by
Professor Allan Struthers, carried out blood tests in 300 people
with high blood pressure or cholesterol.
They found that positive tests were often associated with damage to
the heart at an early stage.
Although this discovery is encouraging, the reality is that it’s
likely to be some time before we can screen people
for early heart disease.
How the study worked
The tests trialled in the Dundee study are already used in
patients, but are currently used in the diagnosis of more obvious,
developed heart disease. They are for two molecules released by the
heart when damaged or under stress, called troponin and B-type
natriuretic peptide. The combined cost of the tests is around £25
This research is an important step in the right direction
102 of the 300
participants were found to have silent heart
by carrying out heart scans. The researchers then
correlated their scan findings with the results of the blood tests,
confirming that the tests did pick up a large proportion of those
with early heart damage.
Our Medical Director Professor Peter
“Treatments are given routinely to all people at high risk, but
ideally we would like to be able to identify people with
very early signs of heart disease – and treat them
to prevent it from progressing.
“The study shows that a blood test, coupled with a simple heart
scan, may be able to identify these early signs of heart disease.
The next steps will be to confirm how reliable the tests are, and
show that early treatment of people who test positive can
improve their outlook. This research is an
important step in the right direction.”
today has a huge impact on people’s lives. As well as
finding new ways to diagnose heart disease, we urgently need
new treatments to tackle it. One of the most
devastating effects of heart disease can be heart failure – when
your heart cannot pump properly, and not enough blood and oxygen
gets delivered around the body to where it’s needed.
As well as finding new ways to diagnose heart disease, we urgently need new treatments to tackle it
That’s why today we launched the latest phase of our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal, which aims to
find a cure for heart failure. Today, more than 750,000
people in the UK are suffering from the often devastating
effects of heart failure, but with your help, we could find a cure.
Please donate to the
Appeal and make our goal of finding a cure for heart
failure into a reality.
The Dundee research was published in the Journal of the American College of