Preventive cardiology researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in the US have found that a blood test for protein biomarkers could help to identify high-risk heart disease in patients currently not receiving treatment.

Researchers collected data of approximately 13,000 individuals from three notable patient populations, including multiple ethnicities.

They found that around one-third of adults suffering from mild hypertension, not recommended for treatment, had higher levels in one of the two biomarkers, indicating that those patients were more likely to suffer from heart attacks, strokes, or congestive heart failure over the next decade.

UT Southwestern Medical Center internal medicine assistant professor for preventive cardiologist Parag Joshi said: “We think this type of test can help in the shared decision-making process for patients who need more information about their risk. These blood tests are easily accessible and are less expensive than some other tests for risk assessment.”

The research team, led by Dr Parag Joshi and Dr Ambarish Pandey, studied data from notable patient populations with a mean age of 55 years who have suffered 825 cardiovascular events over a median follow-up time of ten years.

According to the team, additional studies are required to determine whether informing blood pressure treatment with these biomarkers impacts patient outcomes.

UT Southwestern Medical Center internal medicine assistant professor for preventive cardiologist Ambarish Pandey said: “One of the proteins, high sensitivity troponin, measures injury to the heart muscle and the other, called NT-proBNP, measures stress on the heart muscle.

“The presence of these proteins is indicative of subtle long-term cardiac injury, like wear and tear over time.”

High blood pressure is one of the main factors to increase the risk of several cardiovascular events. Reducing blood pressure cuts down this risk.

Additional factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease include high cholesterol, age, gender, smoking and poor diet, as well as lack of exercise and diabetes.