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Simple cardiovascular test predicts future heart attack risk
04.16.2012High cholesterol and elevated blood pressure are two of the most common cardiovascular risk factors that lead to heart attacks and strokes. However, many people who suffer one of these cardiovascular events do not appear to have these risk factors. This can make it difficult for doctors to determine which patients are likely to experience heart health problems.
However, findings from a new study could help make diagnosing heart attack risk in patients with few obvious warning signs easier. A team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, showed that individuals who have abnormalities on electrocardiogram (EKG) tests are significantly more likely to suffer a heart attack.
For the study, the team administered EKG tests to 2,192 adults over the age of 70. The researchers then tracked participants' medical records for up to eight years.
The results showed that both major and minor EKG abnormalities were strongly predictive of future heart attack risk. This was true regardless of whether participants had other cardiovascular risk factors.
The researchers pointed out that many elderly patients who seek treatment at hospitals are given EKG tests for other purposes. It is a relatively common procedure. Making sure that the results of these tests are available to a patient's regular doctors could help medical professionals spot many patients who are likely to suffer a heart attack.
Findings from the study will likely be most valuable in diagnosing cardiovascular risks in patients who do not have high cholesterol or blood pressure. Normally, doctors will assume that these individuals are unlikely to experience heart health problems. However, spotting unrecognized risk factors could enable physicians to recommend healthcare and wellness programs.
Categories: Health and Wellness
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