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Health Beat: Predicting bad hearts

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 30 2014 02:03:59 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 30 2014 04:44:02 PM CDT

Every year, more than 700,000 Americans have a heart attack, and 600,000 die of heart disease.

DALLAS -

Every year, more than 700,000 Americans have a heart attack, and 600,000 die of heart disease.

"Fully half of the people that are going to die in America are going to die of cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Jeffrey M. Schussler, cardiologist at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

Now, Baylor researchers have uncovered a biomarker that may help them spot the disease sooner; and they did it by pure accident.

"That's what made it really exciting for us because it was a totally unexpected finding," said Caren Swift, research nurse at Baylor Research Institute.

While attempting to identify patients with a rare condition known as fabry disease, the investigators found the marker they were studying, GB3, was more common in people with heart disease.

"The higher the level of GB3 in the urine, the higher the risk of death," said Dr. Raphael Schiffmann, Institute for Metabolic Diseases at Baylor Research Institute.

Because it's found in the urine, it could one day be a simple way to test for patients who are at risk of heart disease.

Catherine Traweek participated in the study. She didn’t have heart disease, but she found she was a carrier for fabry.

"The more you know, the better off you are as far as your health is concerned," Traweek said.

The investigators said they plan to study the GB3 biomarker more to see if it will be a more accurate predictor than current methods, like stress tests.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary and an in-depth interview with the doctor