Simple Blood Tests Hold Key to Future Healthcare Utilization

Monday, March 21st, 2011
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

Two separate blood tests can predict heart patients at risk for readmissions as well as individuals who may develop diabetes, according to two new studies.

New Johns Hopkins research suggests that an inexpensive, routine blood test administered at hospital discharge could reveal why some patients with congestive heart failure do well after discharge and why others risk relapse, costly readmission or death within a year.

And Boston scientists say a simple blood test could help predict the onset of Type II diabetes up to 10 years ahead of any symptoms.

Johns Hopkins researchers tested heart failure patients on admission and discharge for levels of a protein that’s considered a marker for heart stress. In previous studies, the levels of this protein, N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) have been correlated with heart failure symptoms and have been associated with an increase in adverse outcomes.

They found that patients whose protein levels dropped by less than 50 percent over the course of their hospital stay were 57 percent more likely to be readmitted or die within a year than those whose levels dropped by a greater percentage.

Meanwhile, after following more than 2,400 patients for 12 years, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Cardiovascular Research Center reported that 201 of the subjects eventually developed diabetes, according to a report in Nature Medicine. They found that five amino acids had “highly significant associations with future diabetes.”

Patients with the highest levels of amino acids were five times as likely to develop diabetes, they reported.

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