Researchers from the Australia-based Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute have developed a new blood test that can help to quickly and easily detect the risk of a secondary heart attack.

Led by the university’s metabolomics head Peter Meikle, the research team has identified plasma lipid biomarkers in the blood that improve upon traditional risk factors in whether a person is at risk of heart disease and stroke.

“A prototype of this test has been trialled in America, but it offers only limited information based on two lipid markers. It is currently unavailable in Australia.”

Meikle said: “The test was developed after a study looked at 10,000 samples to find the biomarkers that will determine whether a person is at risk of having another heart attack.

“We hope to identify those individuals who are at greatest risk of a second heart attack so that they can be closely monitored and treated accordingly.

“While there are thousands of lipids in the blood, our challenge is to identify which ones best predict disease outcomes.”

So far, a prototype of this test has been trialled in America, but it offers only limited information based on two lipid markers. It is currently unavailable in Australia.

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Under a broader personalised precision health programme, the researchers propose to trial the new blood test in Australia over the next two to three years. Ultimately, a general physician can request this test on patients to better diagnose their risk of developing heart disease.

It is a simple blood test that can be done in out of hospital pathology laboratories that already contain the necessary equipment.

Meikle added: “Our test will use up to ten lipid markers to better diagnose heart disease. It’s a challenging, yet very exciting time. We effectively have the information and are in the process of refining the technology.

“Once the protocols for a diagnostic heart disease blood test are in place; it will be possible to add additional markers for the test to also be used in predicting diabetes and potentially Alzheimer’s disease as well.

“The test will reclassify a patient’s risk of heart attack and stroke. It will better identify who within the ‘intermediate’ risk category are in fact, at higher risk, and help guide physicians in the appropriate treatment of patients.”