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Medical College awarded grant to develop heart disease tests

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MILWAUKEE — The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) received on Thursday, August 23rd, a four-year, $2.5 million award from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

MCW will use the money to develop a more precise clinical test for predicting a patient’s risk of developing heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Wisconsin, resulting in more than 16,000 deaths annually — approximately one-third of all deaths in the state. MCW officials say the prevalence of this disease may increase as rates of obesity and hypertension are predicted to rise in Wisconsin.

This research seeks to aid physicians in predicting and preventing heart disease.  Recent studies have shown the importance of measuring the function of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as “good” cholesterol.  Measuring HDL function is more accurate than traditional tests, which measure HDL levels, at predicting which patients will develop heart disease. 

Current tests for the function of HDL cholesterol are complex and too cumbersome to be useful in a clinical setting.