Two biomarkers could help in the diagnosis of a heart condition that raises the risk of stroke researchers have found, BBC reports.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disturbance. But it is often only detected after someone has had a stroke.
At the moment, an electrocardiogram (ECG) which measures the electrical activity of your heart, is usually used to screen patients for atrial fibrillation.
The researchers looked at 638 hospital patients who were recruited between 2014 and 2016 for acute illnesses. They took blood samples and looked for 40 cardiovascular biomarkers and considered seven clinical risk factors - age, sex, hypertension, heart failure, history of stroke or transient ischaemic attack, kidney function and body mass index (BMI).
This study found that three clinical risk factors and two biomarkers had a strong connection with AF.
Those most at risk of the condition were older, male and had a high BMI. They were also all given an echocardiogram.
Two biomarkers stood out as a link to atrial fibrillation, the researchers found.
One is a hormone secreted by the heart called brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) and the other is a protein responsible for phosphate regulation called fibroblast growth factor-23 (FGF-23).
The researchers say these people could be screened for the condition by testing their blood to see if they have elevated levels of the two biomarkers.
The biomarkers we have identified have the potential to be used in a blood test in community settings such as in GP practices to simplify patient selection for ECG screening”, lead author Yanish Purmah said.
The research was carried out by scientists from the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham's College of Medical and Dental Sciences and is published in the European Heart Journal.