Blood test 'predicts likelihood of disease in smokers'

26 October 2011

Healthcare research has found that a new blood test could detect smokers who are at higher risk of heart disease.

Scientists at the UT Southwestern Medical Center found that a simple test of the blood could predict a smoker's lung toxicity and the danger of heart disease such as cancer, heart attack or stroke.

According to the researchers based in Dallas, Texas, one in five US adults smoke, leading to over $167 billion (£103 billion) in healthcare costs.

Dr Anand Rohatgi, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and co-lead author of the study, said that levels of lung protein found in smokers could indicate the risks of getting plaque buildup in the blood vessels around the heart and lungs.

"We now are close to having a blood test to help measure the smoking-related effects that contribute to atherosclerotic heart disease. Smoking is one of the biggest contributors to the development of heart disease," Dr Rohatgi added.

Researchers found that smokers who had higher levels of circulating pulmonary surfactant B were more likely to suffer cardiac disease later in life.

The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the heart and body, and can lead to blood clots.

Posted by Edward Bartel

Rohatgi, Anand, et al., "Interactions Between Smoking, Pulmonary Surfactant Protein B, and Atherosclerosis in the General Population: The Dallas Heart Study", Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, August 4th 2011.

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