Tuesday, December 16, 2014
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new test that can predict an individual's risk of coronary heart disease, and the test is hailed as particularly effective for black women
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the test - called the PLAC Test for Lp-PLA2 - has been cleared for use in both men and women with no history of heart disease, but studies have shown it is more accurate in predicting coronary heart disease risk (CHD) in women. The test works by measuring the activity of Lp-PLA2 (lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2) - an enzyme that is an indicator of vascular inflammation - in a blood sample. Vascular inflammation is a sign of plaque accumulation in the arteries, and this build-up of plaque can clog the arteries and cause CHD. The FDA found that the rate of CHD events was much higher among black women whose Lp-PLA2 activity levels were higher than 225 nmol/min/mL, compared with other subgroups with similar Lp-PLA2 activity. CHD events were also found to be more common among women with Lp-PLA2 activity levels over 225 nmol/min/mL than men with such levels. The FDA note that, as a result, the test is labeled with different performance information for black women, white women, black men and white men. A cardiac test that helps better predict future CHD risk in women, and especially black women, may help health care professionals identify these patients before they experience a serious CHD event, like a heart attack.