Chest pain could mean you've got a pinched nerve, an inflammation or it could mean nothing at all. Or it could mean plaque on your arteries is breaking loose and accumulating in your heart and a heart attack is soon to come.
So what if a simple blood test could tell us that process is underway? Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute are close to making that a reality.
Their research has been published in the journalPhysical Biology. Researchers say the presence of so-called endothelial cells in the blood show that dangerous plaque is circulating in the bloodstream. So a positive blood test for the cells can predict a heart attack.
"So we have something that shows up before the heart attack," said Peter Kuhn, a Scripps faculty member and co-author of the scientific discovery. "What we do not know yet is how much in advance does this actually show up."
Kuhn says further research must determine when endothelial cells appear in the blood. It could be two days or it could be two weeks before a heart attack.
If you know a heart attack is imminent, doctors can try to ward it off with blood thinners and other treatments.
Listen online at Blood Test To Predict Heart Attacks Found By Scripps Researchers.