Testing: Heart Disease Risk

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about medical tests that can help doctors diagnose and treat disease. Smoking is a major contributor to heart disease, and now scientists may have developed a test to determine which smokers are at greatest risk.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that smokers who have a higher level of a lung protein in their blood may have a higher risk for heart disease. They tested patients’ blood, then performed arterial scans and found that those with more of the protein were more likely to have plaque in their arteries.

Dr. Anand Rohatgi, a UT Southwestern cardiologist, says these findings could lead to a blood test to measure how smoking contributes to heart disease. The test isn’t commercially available yet, and research will continue to determine if this protein causes the plaque buildup or is merely a sign of the problem and to see if reducing levels of this protein could lower heart disease risks.  

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December 2011

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