Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, April 04, 2016

Identifying Stressed Hearts

"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-sensitivity 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."
Dr. Arshed Quyyumi, professor of medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta
Troponin Levels

Research studies consistently conclude that stress and anxiety are bad for health. Those states that carry such a heavy emotional burden are involved in leading to a greater risk of disease and early death. Never before has a method been devised, however, to measure the impact of stress and anxiety clinically. That's in the past. The future has been given a diagnostic gift thanks to a blood test that has been developed to detect stress.

Scientists in the United States have established that the level of the protein troponin will rise in a person's blood when that person's emotional state has become dangerously stressed. As a result, those researchers feel that testing troponin levels will result in an expeditious identification of people at risk of heart problems. Even when people have no signs of risk factors, such as high cholesterol levels, the blood test will reflect the presence of troponin in the blood at levels seen to be risky.

Once diagnosed, appropriate medication or therapy can be presented to the patient. The study's lead author, Dr. Quyyumi, anticipates that this blood test will become a standard investigative protocol for people suspected to be susceptible to high-stress-related heart problems, vastly simplifying diagnostic capabilities. Troponin is a protein that is released in significant amounts when the heart is damaged. Its presence becomes a test to determine whether someone has had a heart attack.

The greater the damage there is to the heart, the more troponin will be present in the blood. What the new study also demonstrates is that troponin levels have begun to rise before heart problems surface; that rise is directly attributable to elevating stress levels. Scientists evaluated 587 patients with heart problems, asking them to become involved in mental and physical stress tests for evaluative purposes.

The physical portion of the allied tests related to exercising, and the mental-health portion involved public speaking. The result of that link test was that one-third of the study patients suffered an inadequate flow of oxygen to the heart because of stress that was identified through elevated levels of troponin.

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