Test appears especially useful for black women
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new blood test that can help determine a person’s future odds for heart attack and other heart problems. The test, designed for people with no history of heart disease, appears to be particularly useful for women, especially black women.
“A cardiac test that helps better predict future coronary heart disease risk in women, and especially black women, may help health-care professionals identify these patients before they experience a serious event, like a heart attack,” said Alberto Gutierrez, director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.
The new test tracks the activity of Lp-PLA2, a biological signal of vascular inflammation—which is strongly associated with the buildup of plaques in arteries. As plaque accumulates, arteries narrow and the likelihood of a cardiovascular event rises.
“Patients with test results that show Lp-PLA2 activity greater than 225 nanomoles per minute per milliliter are at increased risk for a [heart disease] event,” according to the FDA.
Nearly 4,600 people aged 45 to 92 with no prior history of heart disease took part in a study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Participants were followed for an average of five years.
In subgroup analyses, the test seemed particularly sensitive for black women, because they experienced a “higher jump” in the rate of heart attack and other heart disease events when their blood levels of Lp-PLA2 exceeded a certain level.
Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women in this county, with nearly two-thirds of women and half of men who die suddenly displaying no previous symptoms of the disease.