Novel home test identifies heart attack risk in 5 minutes

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Swedish researchers have developed a home-use questionnaire that quickly identifies individuals at high risk of heart attack.

This test, shown to be as accurate as blood tests and blood pressure measurements, could become a vital tool for early detection of cardiovascular disease.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, uses data from the SCAPIS population study based at the University of Gothenburg.

The research was led by Göran Bergström, a Professor of Clinical Physiology at Sahlgrenska Academy and a senior physician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

Heart attacks often strike without warning. Many people who experience heart attacks seem healthy and show no symptoms but have fatty deposits in their coronary arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis.

According to Professor Bergström, the new test can identify almost two-thirds of people aged 50-64 with significant coronary atherosclerosis, putting them at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

The home test consists of 14 questions that take five to eight minutes to complete. These questions cover factors such as age, gender, weight, waist circumference, smoking habits, high blood pressure, high blood fats, diabetes, and family history of cardiovascular disease.

By combining the responses into a special algorithm, the test can detect 65% of individuals at the highest risk of cardiovascular disease.

Professor Bergström states, “Our home test is as accurate as a clinic examination using blood tests and blood pressure measurements.

If we can make the test widely available within health care, it can save lives and prevent suffering by helping us identify those who are at high risk of heart attack or who are currently undertreated.”

The study is based on data from 25,000 individuals aged 50-64 who participated in SCAPIS. All participants had their coronary arteries examined using computed tomography, providing a clear image of the degree of atherosclerosis.

By comparing these images with the questionnaire responses, the researchers identified the factors most closely linked with the degree of atherosclerosis.

The research team is also conducting studies in Sweden and the United States to evaluate how the test works with different groups. Identifying people at risk before the disease occurs is a key objective of the Swedish Heart Lung Foundation’s focus on SCAPIS.

Kristina Sparreljung, the foundation’s Secretary-General, explains, “A test that can provide early warnings would save many lives and prevent a great deal of suffering. The results of Professor Bergström’s study are extremely promising.”

This home test offers a simple yet effective way for individuals to assess their risk of heart attack and take preventive measures. With early detection, those at high risk can seek medical advice and make lifestyle changes to reduce their chances of a heart attack.

This innovation represents a significant step forward in the fight against cardiovascular disease, potentially improving the health and lives of many people worldwide.

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The research findings can be found in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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