Simple Blood Test May Predict Long-Term Chronic Disease Risk
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Simple Blood Test May Predict Long-Term Chronic Disease Risk

There’s new hope for detecting early warning signs of diabetes and heart disease, according to a new study. Our medical director, Dr. Suneet Singh, was interviewed for this Medical News Today article, where he provided insight about the value of lipid profiling (blood tests) to help predict chronic conditions.

Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease are two distinct conditions that are connected in several ways. Developing one can lead to being diagnosed with the other, and early detection of diabetes can lead to effective treatment options, successful management of cardiovascular disease, and lowered health care costs. However, the reality is 10% of the U.S. population has diabetes and every 36 seconds, someone dies of heart disease in the U.S.

However, a change may be on the horizon.

Medical News Today’s article, “Lipid profiling could give early warning of diabetes and heart disease,” highlights the work led by Professor Chris Lauber and his team of researchers who have developed a procedure that relies on lipids in blood plasma to help predict long term risk of Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Officially known as lipidomic profiling, the procedure provides a quantitative measure of risk before symptoms present themselves. 

The study included: 

  • More than 4,000 middle-aged Swedish people
  • Participants ranged in age from 46-68 years  
  • 10% had a body mass index of more than 30 

Those with higher concentrations of certain blood lipids measured had a higher risk of either Type 2 Diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Early Risk ID Can Help Improve Patient Outcomes and Lower Costs

Dr. Singh noted this study has “added to the growing evidence that lipidomics profiling could very well usher in the next generation of detection of cardiovascular diseases as well as diabetes.”

While the technology has a way to go, the pairing of an early detection system with an established collaborative care model, like the one utilized by CareHive with its CareHive360, has tremendous potential to improve patient outcomes and lower costs. As Dr. Singh said, “this new approach allows for a novel framework of risk stratification which also allows for enhancement when used in conjunction with the measurement of standard clinical variables.”

Treating and managing chronic conditions, like diabetes, happens when there is a patient-centered collaborative model of care, with an understanding of the factors associated with nonadherence. This happens when a patient either does not fill a prescribed medication or does not follow instructions for using medication or does not  follow physicians’ orders

Having the ability to identify risks well ahead of diagnosis could give health care providers and patients the early ability to identify and incorporate new habits and processes, so they can create a management protocol that makes patient adherence much more likely or be able to prevent the diagnosis altogether. 

A Wider Research Pool is Needed

While Dr. Singh acknowledged the approach could add to previous methods of assessing risk, he did note there was little diversity in the study population: “It is advisable to continue to expand upon this research by increasing the patient population to include several more variables. This includes different patient ages, racial groups, ethnicities and physical activity levels.”

Promising Early Returns; Process Needs Refining

Measuring blood plasma lipids to determine risk for diabetes and heart disease is quick, relatively inexpensive and gives quantitative results.

Professor Lauber and his research colleagues believe they could identify lipids that contribute most to the risk of developing subsequent health conditions and, potentially, lead to new drug treatments.

The research team further stresses that more research is needed to verify their hypothesis and demonstrate how informative the plasma lipidome is for health and disease.

The news of this development raises cautious optimism, but it is hard not to imagine a future where this risk assessment, paired with a comprehensive care model utilizing a digital platform like CareHive, could dramatically change the landscape of diabetes care and cardiovascular disease treatment.

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