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
"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.