Predicting some heart attacks is now possible in a research setting where the circulating endothelial cells (CECs) are tracked. This finding was reported in Science Translational Medicine. The technique requires specialized lab equipment but if the results are validated it is technologically possible to make these tests continuously with an implant. The finding was that irregular endothelial cells were circulating in the blood before heart attacks occurred. These cells break off from the arterial walls and expose plaque before the plaque itself breaks off and flows downstream to some point where it blocks blood flow. Typically this is into a heart vessel and that causes what is called a heart attack, but if the clot clogs somewhere else it will have a different name, but the cause is the same – a blood clot. The surprising finding is that these CECs can be identified perhaps a week before a large quantity of plaque breaks off and causes the serious problem.
It was also reported that people sometimes felt strange feelings and went to emergency rooms. There they were given current tests but those didn’t show the markers of a heart attack so they were sent home. Unfortunately, in those cases where they were experiencing the CECs it was a precursor of plaque about to break free. There is now the possibility that new tests will become available which will identify those CEC precursor indicators. I have written many times about how to survive embolism clots for example:
Keep your friends close and your aspirin closer.
The new CECs information implies that some people sense the materials in their blood as a pressure in the chest. This chest pressure is a clear indicator to take aspirin immediately. If the platelets are exposed on the artery walls they may be susceptible to the well known clot busting qualities of aspirin. It appears that a person at risk may not have to wait for the for large pieces of plaque to break free and clog an artery before they can take meaningful action. I repeat what I published in Probaway 1995 about aspirin:
“When you have a chest pain or a sudden weakness or other sudden inexplicable bodily malfunctions take aspirin immediately, chew them up and get your body to the emergency clinic.”
[Update: Always have aspirin instantly available, in your wallet, and beside your bed at night. The 5 second aspirin rule - be able to show your aspirin in 5 seconds.]