We’ve all heard stories about people pass a cardiac checkup only to suffer a heart attack days later. Now scientists have found a clue that one day may help determine if a heart attack is imminent, in hopes of preventing it.
Most heart attacks happen when fatty deposits in an artery burst open, and a blood clot then forms to seal the break. If the clot is too big, it blocks off blood flow.
The problem: Today’s best tests can’t predict when that’s about to happen.
But researchers have a new lead — by searching the blood for cells that appear to flake off the lining of a severely diseased artery.
They measured high levels of those deformed cells, floating in the blood of 50 people who’d just had a heart attack. But there were very few of them in the healthy volunteers. The research is reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The next step is to begin studies to learn how early those cells might appear before a heart attack, and if spotting them could allow use of clot-preventing drugs to ward off damage