Boston Heart Diagnostics Corp., the Massachusetts-based molecular cardiac laboratory, has launched an assay that is able to predict a patient’s near-term risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. The test focuses on myeloperoxidase (MPO), an enzyme that is typically generated in conjunction with cardiac inflammation. Elevated levels of MPO presenting in a patient complaining of chest pain is considered a reliable indication of having a heart attack or stroke within one to six months of diagnosis. “A high level of MPO in blood vessels increases risk in several ways. It modifies the primary protein in HDL—the ‘good’ cholesterol—so that it loses its protective properties. It also bruises and roughs up the wall of the blood vessel, making it more prone to rupture and increasing the likelihood that any plaque will become unstable or break off to form dangerous clots,” said Boston Heart Chief Medical Officer Ernst J. Schaefer, M.D. About 715,000 heart attacks occur in the United States every year, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About three-quarters of those strike for the first time, without any prior warnings. Another 795,000 Americans also suffer strokes annually, with 75 percent of those considered first-time events. A patient diagnosed with elevated MPO levels can be treated with statins, beta-blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme—or ACE—inhibitors, averting a catastrophic event. Boston Heart’s MPO assay retails for $125, compared to a cardiac angiography, an invasive procedure that can cost $10,000 or more. It can be performed as a standalone test or with other inflammation marker assays such as hs-CRP and LpPLA2. It also does not require aliquoting by medical office staff, which a Boston Heart spokesperson said differentiated the test from other MPO-related assays. MPO test results are also provided in what the company called a “patient-friendly” manner, which includes color coding the specific results as red, yellow, and green in conjunction with various risk levels. Takeaway: Boston Heart Diagnostics is providing a relatively low-cost test that could be highly predictive of future heart attacks.