At The Forefront: A Test That Could Predict Heart Attacks

Cells known as endothelial cells line the walls of the arteries, and these cells have been strongly linked to ongoing heart attacks when circulating in the bloodstream. The new test works by looking for these circulating endothelial cells (CECs). They are thought to arrive in the blood stream when diseased plaque that has built up in arteries ruptures and ulcerates, causing inflammation. This damage can cause blood clots to form, which prevents blood from flowing through the arteries and ultimately results in a heart attack.

The TSRI team has developed a new "fluid biopsy" test, called the High-Definition Circulating Endothelial Cell (HD-CEC) assay, that can identify CECs in a patient's bloodstream. The team used it on the blood samples of 79 patients who had recently experienced a heart attack at the time of sampling. For comparison, they also used the assay on two control groups, which consisted of 25 healthy patients and seven patients undergoing treatment for vascular disease. The technique successfully distinguished the patients undergoing treatment for a recent heart attack from those in the healthy control group.

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