A simple diagnostic test used to measure a heart's electrical activity may help predict heart attacks.
Researchers at UCSF found a higher risk of heart attack when abnormalities showed up on electrocardiogram (EKG) results of healthy elderly people. The research is based on a comprehensive eight-year study focused on senior citizens in the United States.
Advertisement"We did not include them if they reported a previous heart attack," said lead author Reto Auer, MD, a research fellow at UCSF's Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. "So we looked at people who lived independently - not in assisted living facilities - with no history of heart attacks or coronary heart disease."
The findings, scheduled to be published tomorrow in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), help answer the question of whether or not EKGs can be used to detect heart disease earlier in patients who don't have chest pain or other symptoms.
"This research is taking the information from an EKG and adding it to other traditional risk factors to better predict who is going to have a heart attack," said second author Douglas Bauer, MD, director of the UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine Research Program.