An eye examination could predict heart attack risk: Study
A study claims that a non-invasive eye test may be able to predict the risk of a heart attack once combined with other information. The pattern of blood vessels found in the retina image can indicate a heart attack. This comes at a time when stress and lifestyle have greatly upped the risk of heart ailments and heart attacks even in the youth.
In an abstract presented at the European Society of Human Genetics annual conference in Vienna, researchers used data from 500,000 people's records to calculate a measure called fractal dimension. They combined information about the pattern of blood vessels in the retina with factors like age, sex, and body mass index to study people who had a heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI).
Ana Villaplana-Velasco, Ph.D. student and the presenting author, said, "Strikingly, we discovered that our model was able to better classify participants with low or high MI risk in UK Biobank when compared with established models that only include demographic data." "The improvement of our model was even higher if we added a score related to the genetic propensity of developing MI."
The chairman of the conference, Alexandre Reymond said, "This study demonstrates the importance of implementing prevention now and how personalized health is providing us with the tools to do so." These findings may also detect other diseases like stroke and diabetic retinopathy. Medical director at the British Heart Foundation, Sir Nilesh Samani, said, "More research is needed to show that this improvement is robust."
The average age for a heart attack is 60 and this model achieved predictive performance over five years before the heart attack. They believe a simple retinal examination may identify people at risk in the future. Villaplana-Velasco stated that they would repeat the investigation in men and women to see if a sex-specific model for heart attack results in a more accurate risk rating.