Researchers from the Austin Health and the University of Melbourne have developed a new blood test to improve the risk assessment of long-term heart attack or death in severe coronary artery disease patients.
A long-term study conducted by the team in 79 patients revealed that people with high levels of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) have a higher risk of death or heart attack.
During the research, low-circulating ACE2 levels were observed in healthy individuals that elevated in case of cardiovascular disease or risk factors such as heart failure, atrial fibrillation, kidney disease and diabetes.
Of the total participants, 46% went on to experience heart failure, heart attacks and death over the following ten years. These conditions were observed to be more common in those with high ACE2 levels.
Austin Health and University of Melbourne researcher Louise Burrell said: “We have come a long way in treating coronary artery disease but certain patients continue to be at high risk.
“This new blood test helped identify such patients who may derive benefit from more aggressive treatment.”
The researchers plan to perform additional studies to evaluate whether intensifying treatment in high-risk patients can minimise the risk of death.
According to the team, if the improved treatment helps, the new ACE2 blood test can be offered to all coronary artery disease patients as part of their risk assessment.
Coronary artery disease is characterised by the narrowing or blockage of blood to the heart due to the formation of plaque. Progression of this condition can cause permanent heart damage and failure.