FDA Approves Test to Predict Heart Attack

A new test may help doctors spot patients who are in immediate danger of suffering a major heart attack.

The FDA recently approved the CardioMPO kit for use in combination with other factors to determine which people complaining of chest pain are in imminent danger of having a heart attack.

"One of the most common yet challenging situations in an emergency room or physician office is triaging a patient complaining of chest pain or discomfort," says Marc Penn, MD, PhD, in a news release.

"In these cases, physicians must quickly identify who is at risk of suffering a heart attack or in need of more aggressive intervention,” says Penn who is the medical director of the coronary intensive care unit at The Cleveland Clinic, where the test was developed. “The CardioMPO test will provide physicians more accurate identification of patients at risk."

The blood test measures the level of a protein called myeloperoxidase (MPO) that is produced in infection-fighting white blood cells. In addition, the protein is found in clogged areas of heart arteries that are vulnerable to rupture -- thus causing a heart attack.

Elevated levels of this protein in people with chest pain or discomfort signals a short-term risk of heart attack or need for surgery to restore normal blood flow to the heart, such as bypass surgery or angioplasty. High levels of this protein are also associated with an increased risk of heart-related death within months of the test. In a study of 604 people with chest pain, reported by WebMD, the test accurately predicted who was likely to suffer a heart attack.

Researchers say the heart attack test will be available to doctors in August 2005.

By Jennifer Warner, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES: FDA. News release, PrognostiX. WebMD Medical News: “New Test Predicts Heart Attacks.