Promising New Tests

It has been discovered that a simple blood test could tell people of a warning if they are at risk of suffering from a heart attack in the next five years; when taken on board and acted upon it can be a positive test preventing such an event.

Researchers have discovered that high levels of antibodies produced by the immune system are linked to low risk of heart problems regardless of other risk factors.

Doctors use information such as our age, medical history and that of our family, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels to calculate our risk of heart problems, but this new blood test will identify levels of IgG antibodies which appear to have the ability to shield the body from heart attack even when a person’s blood pressure and cholesterol are high. This perhaps explains why some of us who thought we were safe, healthy due to being very slim and sporty yet suffered stroke and heart difficulties? I’m not certain obviously that is simply me surmising.  

People with the greatest number of these antibodies had a 58% lower risk of coronary heart disease or heart attack and a 38% lower chance of suffering a stroke or other heart events during the first five years of the trial period.

“Linking a stronger immune system to protection from heart attacks is such an exciting finding”, said Dr Ramzi Khamis, consultant cardiologist at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London. I have to say I also find it terribly exciting, as I type I wonder if this blood test already existed would I have had all the problems I’ve experienced? 

Dr Khamis, said that not only is it a way of identifying who is at risk of heart attack enabling them to receive the appropriate treatments but it also gives an avenue to following future work. We hope that we can use this to identify ways in which we can strengthen the immune system in those that don’t have this, to aid in protecting against heart disease.

Coronary heart disease is still the UK’s single biggest killer and the leading cause of death worldwide. It is also responsible for 70,000 deaths in the UK each year, most being caused by heart attack.

To measure the IgG in the blood is not only effective but also cheap, it may even mean that people currently prescribed statins and beta bloggers would no longer need the drugs as their own immune systems would be sufficiently strong to protect them, yet again cheaper for the NHS and better for the person.  

The team at Imperial College studied and University College London studied more than 1700 people in the Anglo Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Arital (ASCZoT) as they were at risk of heart problems. Over five and a half years, 470 had suffered heart attacks or strokes, they were all compared with a controlled group of 1,283 to see what the differences were. It illustrated that those with the lowest amount of antibodies had the highest amount of risk of attack. 

Whether measurement of IgG will become a valuable way forward needs further investigation but the study does provide further evidence for such a role of the immune system in in the protective effect of IgG and heart disease.

The research is published in the scientific journal Ebio Medicine.


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