JUL 04, 2016 5:08 PM PDT

New Biomarkers To Predict Heart Disease Risk

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
From a study of new biomarkers to calculate a person's risk for myocardial infarction, researchers are just months away from publishing results twenty years in the making.

Cholesterol levels plus triglyceride levels, along with body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, and smoking habits can tell a lot about a person's health, especially their heart health. Family doctors frequently use this equation to predict a patient's 10-year risk for heart disease, but is there a way to make this formula more accurate?
Scientists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology believe so. In their recent paper published in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology, researchers proposed the examination of 179 different microRNAs as biomarkers for heart disease, studied in 212 healthy participants.

Myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack, occurs when blood carrying oxygen is blocked from reaching the muscular parts of the heart, which eventually die if they don't receive it. Dying heart tissue is bad news for the rest of the body tissues, which also need oxygen pumped to them via blood in order to survive. 

The researchers from Norway realized that the current formula for predicting heart disease risk needed to change after looking at some frightening statistics. Of the patients dubbed by doctors as "low risk" for heart disease after calculating their risk with the traditional equation, 15-20 percent of these so-called "low risk" patients still had myocardial infarction within ten years of their diagnosis. Doctors have stopped using the traditional formula due to a lack of confidence in the formula.

Instead of abandoning the traditional formula and starting from scratch, the researchers set out to find additional biomarkers to supplement the triglyceride and cholesterol measurements. They decided that a concoction of five different microRNAs as biomarkers for heart disease was the way to make an accurate prediction of heart disease risk, a group which they felt confident in after analyzing the results from their 212-person study.

Using the Nord-Trondelag Health Study 2 (HUNT2) that began in 1996, the researchers examined the microRNA levels of every participant, all between the ages of 40 and 70, after ten years (2006, HUNT3). Upon uncovering the five microRNAs that seemed to be the best biomarkers, the researchers decided to conduct a second 10-year study to confirm their results and proclaim the new and improved heart disease risk prediction calculator as accurate as possible. The findings from the newest study, HUNT4, are scheduled to be published in January 2017.

Sources: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, PubMed Health 

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
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