Heart specialist shares simple test that can predict your risk of heart disease

In the UK, heart health is a growing problem with cardiovascular disease accounting for around a quarter of all deaths every year. This includes conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke.

There are several markers that can indicate whether you have a heart problem. Like many conditions there are symptoms that the patient themselves will pick up on.

These include things like shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, heart palpitations and wheezing. However, there are also tests doctors can run to gauge your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Checking your cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and running an electrocardiogram are ways to do so. However, one expert revealed there could be a better way to catch the risk for heart disease sooner.

Speaking on YouTube, cardiologist Doctor Sanjay Gupta said: “I wanted to talk to you about a very interesting test, which is easily available which can tell us a lot about our future risk of heart disease.

“Cardiovascular disease is the biggest cause of morbidity and mortality in the western world and despite all the advances in medical practice the burden continues to increase.”

He warned that many tests we currently use might only pick up on symptoms that have occurred when the disease has already caused damage.

“The markers we use to diagnose a condition are late markers or maybe even the wrong markers altogether,” he said.

“So if you are using a marker to diagnose a condition because you want to prevent complications but by the time that marker has helped you make the diagnosis a quarter of your patients have already developed the complications of the condition.

“And many of these complications develop over a number of years then clearly we are relying on a very unsophisticated or even a wrong marker to make the diagnosis.”

Dr Gupta explained how a test usually used to see how well your kidneys are working could be used to indicate heart problems.

“Today I wanted to talk to you about a really interesting test that we should be using more often but we don’t and this test is called microalbuminuria,” he said.

A microalbuminuria test measures the amount of a protein called albumin is present in your urine and is a way to tell if your kidneys are functioning well.

Dr Gupta continued: “Now most cardiovascular diseases are caused by harmful processes occurring within our blood vessels.

“Any harmful process that is occurring in our bodies is most likely to affect our most tiny, most fragile blood vessels first and if the process remains unchecked then the damage will extend to our bigger blood vessels.

“So if we want to pick up signs of early vascular disease signs of an early harmful process in our bodies we have to examine our most fragile blood vessels.”

“Our kidneys also contain a very dense population of tiny blood vessels.

“Whilst we can’t directly visualise the blood vessels in the kidneys we know that they contribute to overall kidney health and if they start getting damaged then the kidneys will start leaking out various substances that would not have leaked out if they were completely healthy.

“One of the substances that is leaked out when the kidneys are malfunctioning is protein or albumin.”

If albumin levels are anywhere between 30 to 300 milligrams this is considered to be microalbuminuria.

He added: “In terms of cardiac disease there have been studies including one which is called the strong heart study which showed that there was a significant association between microalbuminuria and abnormalities of cardiac function,” Dr Gupta added.

“In addition, patients who have high blood pressure and have microalbuminuria are likely to have a thicker, stiffer heart.

“So what this tells us is that microalbuminuria can precede the appearance of hypertension and diabetes and can independently predict cardiovascular risk.”

His advice is backed by a study published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine in 2015.

It concluded: “Microalbuminuria is an independent predictor for coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality in the general population.

“Early detection of microalbuminuria in the general population is likely to identify patients at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality.”

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