Time magazine reports research that may eventually allow medical professionals to predict a heart attack.
The report cites a study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, which examines dead blood cells associated with the formation of clots that can block the flow of blood through the heart.
According to the report, the first stages of a heart attack involve the weakening or erosion of blood vessel walls, attracting inflammatory cells that damage other cells lining the inside of the blood vessels. Eventually, those cells that line the blood vessels start to clump together before sloughing off to float around in the blood, possibly triggering a heart attack.
The study, involving 50 patients who had a heart attack and 44 healthy controls, found that the heart attack patients had more than four times the concentration of those free-floating circulating endothelial cells, or CECs. Researchers also discovered that the CECs in the heart patients looked different from those in the healthy people.
According to the Mayo Clinic, use of oral contraceptives is a factor that can increase the risk of blood clots, which in turn can increase the risk of heart attack. Other drugs and conditions fall into this category, including pregnancy. But while most oral contraceptives increase the risk of blood clots, several studies show that Beyaz, Yaz, Yasmin, Ocella, and other birth control pills containing the compound drospirenone are considerably more likely to cause blood clots, pulmonary embolism, and stroke than other birth control drugs.
See the Time story here: http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/22/scientists-devise-a-blood-test-to-predict-heart-attack/