New blood test spots stress damage in the heart
A blood test that detects stress and shows when it is damaging the heart has been developed by scientists.
Many studies have concluded that stress and anxiety are bad for health, bringing greater risk of disease and early death, but there has never been a way to measure the impact clinically.
Now US scientists have found that the level of the protein troponin rises in the blood when a person is dangerously stressed.
Researchers say testing troponin levels could be a quick way of identifying people at risk of heart problems, even when they do not appear to have any other risk factors such as high cholesterol. Patients could then be offered medication or therapy.
Dr Arshed Quyyumi, professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, said: "We've always believed stress can be harmful to cardiac health. We now show this harm is reflected by elevated levels of troponin in the circulation.
"For the first time, doctors have a way to measure that impact with a high sensitive troponin test.
"Because a higher circulating level of troponin is associated with worse long-term outcomes such as heart attack or even death, doctors may eventually use this information to prevent complications from developing."
Troponin is a protein released in large amounts when the heart is damaged, and its presence is used as a test for determining if someone has had a heart attack. The more damage there is to the heart, the greater the amount of troponin in the blood.
However, the new study shows troponin levels are already rising before heart problems have begun and are directly linked to rising stress. (© Daily Telegraph, London)