A quick home test alerts to the risk of heart attacks

Written By Mark

Swedish researchers have developed a home questionnaire that can quickly determine your risk of heart attack. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found the test to be just as accurate as blood tests and blood pressure measurements.

Atherosclerosis and heart attacks

Arteries become narrowed when cholesterol builds up in their walls, reducing blood flow. Doctors call the buildup of cholesterol and other substances in the walls of the arteries that supply your heart coronary atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can be a serious condition. The heart can become weak from lack of oxygen, and the plaque that contains cholesterol and other substances can tear, damaging the artery walls. This can lead to a heart attack (myocardial infarction), a serious medical emergency in which the blood supply to your heart is suddenly blocked.

The study is based on data from 25,000 people aged 50 to 64 who were part of the Swedish Heart and Lung Bioimaging Study. All participants had their coronary arteries examined using computed tomography, which provides a picture of the degree of arterial stiffness.

By comparing the heart images to questionnaires the participants completed, the researchers were able to see which factors had the strongest associations with the degree of atherosclerosis. According to the results of the study, published July 3, the home test can detect 65% of individuals at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

How to do the test

The home test consists of 14 questions that take five to eight minutes to answer, and these questions relate to factors including age, gender, weight, waist circumference, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood fats, diabetes, and family history of cardiovascular disease.

Results and application

“A heart attack often comes on suddenly,” said Göran Bergström, a professor of clinical physiology at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, who led the study. According to EurekAlert, many people who have heart attacks appear healthy and have no symptoms, but may have fatty deposits in their coronary arteries.

Bergstrom noted that the test could help identify about two-thirds of people between the ages of 50 and 64 who have significant coronary artery disease and are therefore at risk for cardiovascular disease.

“The results show that our home test is as accurate as clinic-based screening using blood tests and blood pressure measurements,” he said. If the research team can make the test widely available within healthcare settings, it could save lives and prevent suffering by helping to identify people at risk of heart attacks or who are currently receiving inadequate treatment, he added.