Coronary Heart DiseaseHeart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Doctors generally diagnose coronary heart disease (CHD) based on medical and family histories, risk factors, a physical exam, and the results from tests and procedures. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved a blood test that helps to predict the risk of coronary heart disease. According to the agency, the test named PLAC Test for Lp-PLA2 – has been cleared for use in both men and women with no history of heart disease; however, it is more accurate in predicting coronary heart disease risk (CHD) in women.

The lab test manufactured by San Francisco-based diaDexus, Inc. measures the activity of lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) in a patient’s blood. Phospholipase A2 is an enzyme that is an indicator of vascular inflammation – in a blood sample.

Patients with test results that show Lp-PLA2 activity greater than the level of 225 nanomoles per minute per milliliter are at increased risk for a [heart disease] event. The test was administered on 4,598 participants aged 45 to 92 years who had no history of CHD, of which 58.3% were women and 41.5% were black. The occurrence of CHD events was recorded among each individual for an average of 5.3 years.

The study found that 7% of participants with Lp-PLA2 activity higher than 225 nmol /min/ mL experienced a CHD event, compared with only 3.3% of participants with Lp-PLA2 activity lower than 225 nmol /min /mL. Compared with other subgroups, the rate of CHD events was much higher among African American women. The test is ideal to help healthcare professionals identify these patients before they experience a serious CHD event.