NZ team develops life-saving blood test
11 Jan, 2006
Source: Royal Society News
A blood test that can confirm which patients in hospital emergency rooms are at the biggest risk of death from heart failure has been pioneered by New Zealand researchers.
Heart failure is a growing health problem and a major cause of cardiac death. However, it can be difficult to diagnose in early stages if symptoms overlap with other conditions such as pneumonia or emphysema.
The blood test, developed by the Christchurch Cardioendocrine Research Group, detects levels of the protein NT-proBNP. This protein is linked to heart failure and has been shown to be the single strongest predictor of death.
“It’s a single blood test that can provide multiple pieces of important information,” Dr James Januzzi of Harvard Medical School says.
The test may also identify patients who are at high-risk of developing heart failure, and those who have no symptoms but are in the early stages of cardiac failure, Dr Januzzi adds. “If we can start treating those patients right away we have a much better chance of extending their lives.”
Data from the Christchurch group’s research has been used in an international study involving New Zealand, Spain, the Netherlands and the United States. Further clinical trials are currently underway.
- 14 November 2007