ECG can also predict heart attacks

Washington: Can a simple diagnostic test that measures a heart`s electrical activity help predict heart attacks?

Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco, found a higher risk of heart attack when abnormalities showed up on electrocardiogram (ECG) results of healthy elderly people.

"We did not include them if they reported a previous heart attack," said Reto Auer, research fellow in epidemiology and biostatistics from California. "So we looked at people who lived independently - not in assisted living facilities - with no history of heart attacks or coronary heart disease."

The findings help answer the question of whether or not EKGs can be used to detect heart disease earlier in patients who don`t have chest pain or other symptoms, the Journal of the American Medical Association reports.

"This research is taking the information from an ECG and adding it to other traditional risk factors to better predict who is going to have a heart attack," said study co-author Douglas Bauer, director of the Calfornia`s Division of General Internal Medicine Research Program, according to a California statement.

Researchers studied 2,192 healthy adults aged 70 and older for eight years. Those with ECG abnormalities had more heart attacks.

The results were consistent even when researchers took into account known risk factors for heart attacks, such as smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.