DALLAS, June 17 - A blood protein called "ACE" identifies people likely to have life-threatening complications after a heart attack. By helping diagnose "high-risk" patients, ACE may help physicians better tailor drug therapy, say researchers from the Netherlands and Germany, whose study appears in today's American Heart Association journal Circulation.
ACE is short for angiotensin-converting enzyme. The enzyme helps regulate blood pressure and heart function through its action on hormones. Researchers measured blood levels of ACE in 64 individuals who were part of a study of a drug, called an ACE-inhibitor, which blocks the enzyme. Patients received the ACE-inhibitor (captopril) within hours of their heart attack to prevent heart enlargement, a problem that can occur after a heart attack and can impair the heart's ability to pump blood.
After one year, scientists found that people who had the highest ACE levels immediately after a heart attack had the highest risk for heart enlargement one year after a heart attack.
"Elevated plasma ACE activity determined shortly after the onset of heart attack may identify patients at risk," said Margreeth Oosterga, M.D., of the department of clinical pharmacology, University of Groningen, the Netherlands.
"These results show that heart enlargement after a heart attack is associated with high ACE levels, which might justify the use of ACE-inhibitors. The study also suggests that ACE levels have to be measured directly after a heart attack and that patients with high ACE levels should be treated with an ACE-inhibitor."
Media advisory: Dr. Oosterga can be reached at 050-361-2915.