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Australian researchers have developed a blood test that improves the prediction of long-term risk of heart attack or death in those with severe coronary artery disease.
The Austin Health and University of Melbourne researchers found patients with coronary artery disease who had a high level of an enzyme called ACE2 were more likely to die or suffer from a heart attack over the next 10 years.
The study could change clinical practice for a disease that remains the leading cause of death in Australia, said Austin Health and University of Melbourne researcher Professor Louise Burrell.
“We have come a long way in treating coronary artery disease but certain patients continue to be at high risk of dying. This new blood test helped identify such patients who may derive benefit from more aggressive treatment,” Burrell said.
“Future studies are planned to investigate if intensification of the medical treatment in those patients will reduce the risk of death. If this were the case, the ACE2 blood test could be offered to all patients with coronary artery disease as part of their risk assessment.”
In healthy people, circulating ACE2 levels are low, but they increase once cardiovascular disease or risk factors are present, including heart failure, atrial fibrillation, kidney disease and diabetes, Burrell said.
Researchers recruited 79 patients with coronary artery disease and followed them up long term. Over the next 10 years, heart failure, heart attacks and death occurred in 46% of patients, and this occurred more often in those with the highest ACE2 levels.
The study, published in PLOS ON, was funded in part by grants from the Heart Foundation, the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.
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