Coronary heart disease is the undisputed leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, and over the years, doctors and researchers have formulated tests to detect the risk of heart disease in patients. However, these tests — known as Framingham risks — have often fallen short, with fatal results.
A silent killer, heart disease has been known to strike down seemingly healthy people without warning. It is this very tragedy that Guard a Heart, partnering with Aviir Labs, wants to prevent, with the use of a cutting-edge test to determine the presence and risk of vulnerable plaque buildup in the arteries. The goal is to save lives, and Guard a Heart is making a difference.
How A Certain Type of Arterial Plaque Can Kill You
Arterial plaque is a well-known factor in heart disease. A waxy substance, it’s often attributed to high cholesterol levels, and its accumulation within artery walls can block blood flow, resulting in angina or a heart attack. Patients with a critical amount of arterial plaque may undergo an operation in which a surgeon inserts a thin tube, known as a stent, to open up the clogged artery and allow the smoother flow of blood.
Traditionally, the Framingham method is available to identify risk; however, it should be noted that 50% of heart attack victims have normal cholesterol levels and do not set off any medical alarms. One famous example is Tim Russert, the TV journalist who passed a complete physical, only to suddenly suffer a fatal heart attack a mere two weeks later.
Guard a Heart concentrates on a different danger of plaque buildup, known as vulnerable plaque. The plaque-packed walls are the same, but the risk is from the sudden rupture of the plaque deposit. Should the plaque walls burst, a blood clot can form, thus blocking the blood flow through the artery and causing a heart attack. In fact, 75% of all heart attacks are caused by such ruptures.
Guard a Heart and Aviir, in research spearheaded by Dr. Douglas Harrington from Stanford University, have formulated the most advanced cardiac risk test available. The MIRISK VP test catches the risk of vulnerable plaque in its earliest stages, thus allowing the patient and doctor to put together a preventative plan.
Dr. Harrington and Aviir studies 5,000 participants over the course of six years to develop this blood test. The researchers looked at seven proteins associated with vulnerable plaque:
HGF for angiogenesis and cell proliferation; fas ligand and sFas for apoptosis; eotaxin, IL-16, and MCP-3 for chemotaxis; and CTACK for chemotaxis and inflammation. Along with such factors as age, gender, diabetes, and family history, these seven protein biomarkers are the leading indicators of vulnerable plaque risk in the MIRISK VP test.
Patients with an intermediate risk of heart disease are understandably the ideal and intended audience for the MIRISK VP test. While low-risk patients are not under immediate threat and high-risk patients are easier to detect, intermediate risk is harder to negotiate because the symptoms may go undetected by typical measures.
In MIRISK test, more than 42% of patients were classified as facing an intermediate risk; among that group, 25% were found to be high-risk. Put simply, MIRISK identified 1 in 4 people whose heart disease risk would normally go undetected. In addition, MIRISK has been validated in a multi-ethnic study population; the test is an equal-opportunity lifesaver.
The MIRISK test can be requested from any doctor in the country, and a kit will be sent out to the medical office from Aviir’s central headquarters in Irvine. In California, Aviir also has draw facilities. The tests will be performed at Aviir’s facilities, but the results will be sent back to the original point of request.
To mitigate the risk, the patient and doctor can develop a plan, which may include medicine, surgery, and/or behavioral changes pertaining to diet, exercise, smoking, or other actions. MIRISK is the jumping-off point aimed at preventative care, which can often be easier and cheaper than intensive end-stage care.
To promote MIRISK, Guard a Heart has the backing of actor and producer Jamie Kennedy, World Heart Day, the Ms. America Pageant and numerous Hollywood celebrities. In particular, Ms. America is a valuable ally, as five times as many women die from heart disease as from breast cancer. Actor Eric Roberts luckily had a MIRISK test done, only to find he was in danger of a heart attack with a 90% blockage, which he underwent a procedure to safe his life!
Heart disease has likely touched your life and the lives of many around you, either directly or indirectly. Risk tests have been around for a long time, but they’ve fallen short, as tragic stories will attest.
MIRISK VP hopes to take the guesswork out of heart health with a test to identify intermediate-risk patients that other tests may overlook, and clinical tests have shown a 25% increase in early detection. If knowledge is power, MIRISK offers the sound medical judgment that’s the first step toward your improved health and well-being. From there, you and your doctor can determine how best to read and respond to the signs of your cardiac health. Have your doctor order the MIRISK test today — the life you’re saving could be your own.
To reach Guard A Heart to have your own assessment done, go to their website www.guardaheart.org