New Methods of Identifying At-Risk Patients Developed by University of Worcester


Researchers at the University of Worcester have discovered a new way of helping to identify patients at risk of a second heart attack, by sampling their blood.

The test can also help to predict the type of heart attack a patient might have, and the area of the heart affected.

Heart attacks can be classified into two main types- STEMI (ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction) and NSTEMI (Non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction).

The researchers looked at certain biomarkers in the blood samples of patients who’d been admitted to hospital after an NSTEMI heart attack.

They found that when the blood samples of the patients had a higher concentration of a particular biomarker, they were at a higher risk of having a second heart attack in the following 12 months.

The study began in 2018 and was carried out in collaboration with the Cardiology Department at the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. Following peer review, it has now been accepted by the International Journal of Cardiology.

Dr Steven Coles, a senior lecturer in Biochemistry from the University of Worcester, was the supervisor for the study. He said: “The study used blood samples from people who were presenting at hospital with an Acute Coronary Syndrome event. We studied these samples and followed up with them after six months and then again after 12 months.”

He said: “We looked at the concentration of particular biomarkers in their blood and categorised them into low, medium or high for that biomarker. Half of the group who had higher levels of it were readmitted to hospital with a secondary heart attack in the year following their initial one, but for the patients who were in the ‘low’ group for the biomarker, not a single one was readmitted.”

Dr Coles continued; “For the patients, this highlights the risk to them, and you can provide improved follow-up care. We Can look at how we treat these patients and that’s what we need to work with clinicians on. This research doesn’t replace the need for things like ECGs but it does give an insight which can improve ongoing care for patients.”

The study also found that the biomarker was useful in determining which kind of heart attack the patient was experiencing. The British Heart Foundation has highlighted in the past the harm that can be caused by being diagnosed as having the wrong kind of heart attack.

Dr Coles said “Our biomarker allows for better distinction between heart attack types, even the area of the heart which has been affected.”

He continued: “We can predict in 70 percent of heart attacks what kind of heart attack the patient is having, and this is accurate in all groups, for men and women and across the age ranges.”

The study looked at 80 Acute Coronary Syndrome patients recruited over a number of years and involved a control population as well.

It has led to the creation of a large clinical dataset which can be used for further study into the care of patients who have had ACS.

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