Patients with an increased risk of Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) could be more accurately and effectively identified with the help of a single blood test, according to a team researchers from the Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) in Rhode Island, that also included a researcher from UTHealth.
The study, published online in advance of the print edition in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, suggests that the test would enable physicians to carry out an accurate assessment of the patient’s condition by utilizing an Implantable Cardiac Defibrilliator (ICD). Without accurate test results, ICD often leads to unnecessary use in patients who are only suspected to be in need of the technology.
SCD can result from a number of health conditions, such as Coronary Heart Disease (which causes the narrowing of blood vessels), cardiomyopathy (heart muscle issues), scarring (ischemia) of heart tissues, and genetic predispositions, among others. The onset of SCD causes electrical abnormalities within the heart, leading to improper and irregular flow of blood into and out of the heart. Death can occur within minutes if not assessed and treated properly. It has been reported to have cause of around 325,000 deaths in the United States alone.
The current methods of risk assessment include measurement of ejection fraction (which falls to 30-35%), performing chest X-rays, Electrocardiograms and Echocardiograms. Blood tests to check for cardiac enzymes, hormones, and levels of electrolytes can also be performed.
The new blood test is in its pilot stage, with plans for expansion to a larger scale, multi-site trial expected to take place this fall.
The principal researcher for this study, Samuel C. Dudley, M.D., Ph.D, chief of cardiology at the CVI, supported the study, saying,”This is the first test of its kind; never before have clinicians been able to accurately assess a patient’s risk of sudden cardiac death by performing a blood test. The primary prevention model for at-risk patients in the U.S. is to implant an ICD before a cardiac event happens. While it’s better to be safe, this has led to widespread overuse of ICDs throughout the U.S. and abroad.”
Dudley’s principal affiliation is the Cardiovascular Research Center, Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute. He also has an academic appointment at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
Dr. Dudley noted that the new blood test could particularly benefit developing countries in diagnosing Sudden Cardiac Death: “Health care is much more advanced here, but in developing countries, doctors wait until a person has survived a cardiac event before implanting a defibrillator and only 10 percent survive the initial event. But with a blood test, patients could be easily tested before an event and be implanted with an ICD, if appropriate.”
Funding for this study include grants from the National Institutes of Health (P01 HL058000), R01 HL1024025, R01 HL106592); Veterans Administration Merit Award; and a National Institutes of Health R41 HL112355 to 3PrimeDx; and the National Center for Research Resources/National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (UL 1RR029879).
Other researchers are Ge Gao M.D., Ph.D; Vikram Brahmanandam, M.D.; Mihai Raicu M.D.; Lianzhi Gu, M.D., Ph.D; Li Zhou, M.D., Ph.D; Srinivasan Kasturirangan, M.D.; Melissa Wood, M.D.; Alan Schwartz, Ph.D, and Ankit A. Desai, M.D., of the University of Illinois, Chicago; Anish Shah of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine; Smita I. Negi, M.D., of the University of Texas Health Science Center; and Antone Tatooles, M.D., of the Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill.