• A New Blood Test Predicts Impending Heart Attacks But Will It Save Lives?

    Posted January 11, 2014: by Bill Sardi

    Over a year ago I reported on a blood test that can predict an impending heart attack days prior to its occurrence.  The test measured the number of circulating cells sloughed off from the inside of arteries that can block coronary arteries that supply oxygen to the heart.  But I asked then, “what to do next?”

    The test needed to be refined and validated, which is what Scripps Institute researchers announced recently in the journal of Physical Biology.

    But precisely what would cardiologists do to prevent the onset of a heart attack if the test indicates a heart attack is imminent?

    Most likely they will employ drugs that reduce coagulation (clotting) of the blood but the number of these microparticles must be reduced to address the problem directly.

    Aspirin is often taken to prevent heart attacks due to clots forming in coronary arteries, but because of side effects (risk for brain hemorrhage and bleeding gastric ulcers) as well as being ineffective as baby aspirin, their use is being called into question.

    Statin cholesterol-lowering drugs have been shown to reduce circulating microparticles in the blood circulation.  Statin drugs only mildly reduce the risk for a heart attack, and then only non-mortal heart attacks.  By estimation, putting every adult on a statin drug would increase the number of additional blinding cataracts by 2,104,000; additional cases of kidney failure by 165,000; additional cases of liver dysfunction by 532,800.

    Obviously there will be a scramble to develop drugs and rapidly undergo trials.  Placebo controlled tests, where some patients receive inactive placebo pills would be inappropriate and unethical to use among patients facing a mortal outcome.  Any life-saving drug would have to be tested against existing therapy.

    Six years ago researchers in Europe conducted a study in animals and reported that a mixture of red wine polyphenols significantly reduces the number of circulating endothelial cells that may accumulate in the coronary artery and block circulation.

    Will cardiology use red wine polyphenols or attempt to do what it usually does – develop patentable synthetic look-alike drugs that can be marketed at a higher profit as a drug?  Recognize, if natural molecules from red wine are found to prevent, treat or cure any disease, they will be classified as a drug. They don’t need to be synthetically made drugs.  Pharmaceutical companies make more money on patentable molecules.

    But a larger question looms.  Roughly 700,000 Americans have a heart attack each year, most which are first-time heart attacks.  Nearly half of sudden mortal heart attacks occur outside a hospital and may occur without warning.  The patient may never make it to the cardiologist’s office for the test, given there are no other predictive signs that would prompt a visit to the emergency room or cardiologist.

    The availability of a safe and effective red wine pill that the masses could use to prevent these types of heart attacks should be welcomed, but if classified as a drug, they would require a doctor’s prescription, which would limit their availability and raise their price.  What is needed is something that is inexpensive, available without prescription, has no serious side effects and works better and safer than aspirin or statin drugs.  A red wine pill may be a good candidate, but don’t bet on it ever being embraced by modern medicine.  © 2014 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.

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