London: Scientists have developed a simple two-pound blood test that has the potential to test a person`s chances of developing heart disease and diabetes.
The test would be made available in five years and anyone found to be prone could then take potentially life-saving steps to improve their health.
"This may give us a new way of assessing the health of blood vessels of patients with diabetes and also in the general population," the Daily Mail quoted researcher Manual Mayr as saying.
The test measures levels of a small strand of genetic material called MiR-126, which plays a crucial role in keeping our arteries healthy.
As our blood vessels become damaged, levels of MiR-126 fall.
Scientists from the King`s College London have shown that men and women with very low levels are twice as likely to develop heart problems in the following decade as others.
The research is in its infancy and but Mayr said that a basic testing kit that would calculate a person`s odds of heart disease or diabetes in the next decade could be in widespread use by 2015.
The blood test would pick up signs of damage in their arteries, allowing them to start on drugs and make changes to their lifestyle.
The kit could also be used to monitor the progress of heart disease, making it easier for cash-strapped doctors to separate those who need the most gruelling treatments from others.
Jeremy Pearson of the British Heart Foundation, which funded the research, said: "This is important because right now there is no quick and easy way to monitor blood vessel health.
"Problems go unnoticed until symptoms appear and the first symptom could be as serious as a heart attack."