Predicting Heart Failure with a Blood Test
Reported November 2011
WASHINGTON D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) –More than five million Americans have heart failure – it’s when the heart can’t pump enough blood to the body. Many patients with the condition have repeat hospitalizations, and it kills about 300,000 people each year. Now, we’ll tell you how a simple blood test could save lives.
After months of feeling tired, unable to do the easiest of daily chores, Marcia Williams was sent to the hospital.
“I think I was in shock because I’ve never been ill before in my entire life, never been to the hospital,” Marcia Williams, a heart failure patient told Ivanhoe.
Marcia was diagnosed with congestive heart failure – it occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Many patients with the condition have high hospital readmission rates or die within a year. Now at Johns Hopkins, hospitalists – doctors who specialize in the care of hospital patients –say a blood test given before patients are discharged could save lives.
”The benefit of testing is that it helps you to stratify, or determine which patients are at higher risk for being readmitted or dying, Henry Michtalik, M.D., a hospitalist at Johns Hopkins Hospital told Ivanhoe.
The test looks for a specific peptide, or protein that the body produces to help the heart during heart failure. High levels of this protein have been linked to heart failure symptoms.
“These are patients that are at higher risk who would require more intensive therapy, more monitoring or closer follow up,” Dr. Michtalik explained.
In a study, doctors found that patients whose protein levels dropped by less than 50 percent during their hospital stay were 57 percent more likely to be readmitted or die within a year, than those whose levels dropped by more than 50 percent.
“The direction of the peptide change would tell you if you’re improving, in other words if the stress on the heart is decreasing,” Dr. Michtalik explained.
Some patients may appear better after a hospital stay, but the blood test can help determine who remains at higher risk for future readmission or death. Marcia made lifestyle changes to make sure she doesn’t return.
“As long as I do the right things, I’m going to live a long prosperous life,” Williams concluded.
A long life -- out of the hospital.
Researchers say that heart failure patients should be tested for the peptide at the beginning and at the end of their hospital stay.
Click here to Go Inside This Science and View Video or contact:
Stephanie Desmon Fey
Johns Hopkins Hospital
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