SD Researchers Find ‘Holy Grail’ of Heart Attack Diagnosis

San Diego scientists unveil breakthrough that could help more than 2.5 million Americans

File / NBC 4 New York

A study released Wednesday shows a new kind of blood test may help doctors predict imminent heart attacks.

The researchers with Scripps Health and the Scripps Research Institute believe the new discovery is the “Holy Grail” of heart attack diagnosis, according to a statement released Wednesday.

Heart attacks or ischemic strokes affect 2.5 million Americans, said the study’s lead investigator, Paddy Barrett.

One kind of cell – the circulating endothelial cell – tends to be abnormally large and misshapen when a person is about to have a heart attack.

The researchers in this study looked at those cells in 50 patients who were admitted to the emergency rooms who eventually suffered heart attacks. They found that the cells were, in fact, dramatically altered in those patients.

Knowing that, the researchers believe they’ll be able to develop a blood test to determine when a heart attack is about to happen in a patient. Currently, doctors can only know during or after a heart attack.

“This would be an ideal test to perform in an emergency room to determine if a patient is on the cusp of a heart attack or about to experience one in the next couple of weeks,” said Raghava Gollapudi, principal investigator from Sharp HealthCare.

The breakthrough was a collaboration of Scripps researchers along with SharpHealthCare and Palomar Health. It was funded by a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

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