The new £50 blood test for detecting the deadly and difficult-to-diagnose inflammatory heart condition is expected to be available within a year.
It is based on research published in the journal Circulation, which offers hope of a quick way to detect the condition.
The symptoms of myocarditis include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fever.
Heart biopsy is currently the gold standard method for the diagnosis of this heart condition. It is said to be an invasive, expensive, and risky procedure that can sometimes miss signs of the condition.
A team of researchers led by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Cardiovascular Immunology professor Federica Marelli-Berg at the Queen Mary University of London found that the presence of T-cells, a white blood cell type, can express a molecule called cMet. This strongly indicates that a person has myocarditis.
The levels of cMet-expressing T cells can be detected through a routine blood test.
In the BHF-funded study, the researchers compared the blood samples from many patients, including 34 people with myocarditis.
They found that patients with myocarditis had significantly high levels of cMet-expressing T cells compared to another healthy control group, heart attack patients, and those with no medical condition.
The researchers found that cMet-expressing T cells will become active by molecules expressed by heart cells. This will produce an immune reaction against T cells, leading to heart muscle inflammation.
They hope that these findings will improve myocarditis diagnosis and help people get treatment earlier.
This will reduce the risk of developing life-threatening complications, including abnormal heart rhythms or heart failure.
Marelli-Berg said: “Early intervention is crucial when treating myocarditis as, in some cases, it can be only a matter of weeks between the onset of symptoms and development of heart failure. But without a diagnosis doctors can’t offer their patients the right treatment.
“We think that this test for myocarditis could be a simple addition to the routine blood tests ordered in doctors’ surgeries.
“When viewed in combination with symptoms, the results could allow GPs to easily determine whether their patients have myocarditis.”