Heart attack and stroke generally begin with the rupture of pre-existing atheromas - accumulations of macrophage cells, lipids, calcium, and fibrous connective tissue that collect within artery walls. It now appears that the early stages of such ruptures produces abnormal endothelial cells which are swept away into the circulating blood. Circulating endothelial cells are therefore promising biomarkers for prediction of acute ongoing arterial plaque rupture - an event which often results in heart attack, stroke, or other circulatory problems.
“The ability to diagnose an imminent heart attack has long been considered the holy grail of cardiovascular medicine,” said Dr. Eric Topol, one of the study’s principal investigators and director of STSI. “This has been a tremendous collaboration of two institutions on the research side, three health care systems in San Diego, and a life science industry leader, which has resulted in an important discovery that may help to change the future of cardiovascular medicine.”
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