A new urine test for heart disease

08 February 2009


This week researchers have reported a new way of diagnosing whether someone is likely to develop coronary artery disease or CAD by testing the chemicals present in their urine.

The coronary angiogram (LCA) of a man.CAD is a major cause of death around the world and currently the only way to diagnose it is to conduct an angiogram, which is expensive and invasive involving injecting dye into the blood that shows up on x-rays and allows doctors to see how badly blood vessels are getting lined by fatty deposits or plaque, that can restrict and eventually block the flow of blood to the heart causing a heart attack.

Now a team of researchers led by Karlheinze Peter from the Baker Heart Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia have identified 17 specific peptides (the molecules that make up proteins) in the urine of people who were diagnosed as having CAD using angiograms.

Their study published in the Journal of proteome research describes also describes how Peter and his team carried out a blind test on these peptides. By first screening the urine of a group of volunteers, then subsequently giving them angiograms it was shown that the urine test accurately picked out the people with CAD around 84% of the time.

They also found a direct link between these peptides and CAD, because they found these same chemicals in the fatty plaques that line the blood vessels of people with the condition, which is presumably why these peptides are finding their way via the blood stream into the urine.

It is still early days for a new CAD urine test to be rolled out, but these findings point the way towards a cheap, non-invasive test, that one day may hopefully help to detect the condition much earlier, giving patients a chance to make changes to their diet and lifestyle to help control the development of the disease.


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