CERT – Coronary Event Risk Test (brand name Hertta) is a new study to assess the patient’s risk for myocardial infarction and, in particular, cardiac death. Also Hertta-test measures the risk of type 2 diabetes onset.
CERT is a blood sample based diagnostic method to measure the risk of severe infarction or cardiac death, and risk of type 2 diabetes. The test is based on quantification of certain ceramide lipid molecules.
The test gives as a result two risk scores:
- Cardiovascular Risk Score (S -CVrisk) and a risk-based statement.
- Diabetes Risk Score (S -DMrisk) and a risk-based statement.
Cardiovascular Risk (S -CVrisk) is divided into four risk categories:
|Risk of cardiac death (%)|
|CV Risk Score||Risk Category||Population||Stable coronary artery disease patients||Acute coronary syndrome patients|
|0-2||Low risk||0,5% / 10y||2,3% / 5y||1,6% / 1y|
|3-6||Medium risk||1,1% / 10y||3,3% / 5y||2,6% / 1y|
|7-9||Elevated risk||2,2% / 10y||5,3% / 5y||3,3% / 1y|
|10-12||High risk||2,9% / 10y||10,1% / 5y||9,4% / 1y|
Cardiovascular Risk Score is determined based on the ceramide levels and their ratios. Depending on the ceramide and ratio levels, the measurement receives either 0, 1 or 2 points. The sum of the points indicates the person’s risk score.
CERT predicts myocardial infarction and cardiac death risk more accurately than traditional cholesterol tests. The test also measures the residual risk in patients on cholesterol medication, and predicts myocardial infarction in people who have not yet been diagnosed with coronary artery disease.
Diabetes Risk Score reflects a person’s probability to develop a type II diabetes over the next ten years. It is calculated from a specific ceramide ratio and taking into account the person’s body mass index, age and sex.
Diabetes Risk Score (S -DMrisk) is divided into three risk categories:
|Diabetes Risk Score||Risk Category|
|> 15||High risk|
CERT can be used to predict the risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular death, and risk of developing type II diabetes, especially in the following patient groups:
- CV Risk: People who are not known to have coronary artery disease or elevated cholesterol levels but who, for example have family history of cardiovascular disease or have other risk factors.
- CV Risk: Coronary artery disease patients. Identification of high risk of heart attack and cardiac death can lead to changes in medication, intensification of monitoring, or consideration for an invasive procedure.
- Diabetes Risk: People who are not diagnosed with diabetes. The test is especially recommended for people having family history of type II diabetes or having other risk factors.
Background of ceramide measurements
Ceramides are cell membrane lipids whose levels rise in inflammatory reactions, excessive calorie intake associated with lipid accumulation, or tissue deficiency. Ceramides are associated with several mechanisms of coronary heart disease, for example by accumulating in the arterial plaques and increasing thrombotic risk by activating platelets. Ceramides are also associated to insulin resistance.
By determining ceramides in stable or non-diagnosed patients with coronary artery disease, the assessment of heart attack risk can be refined.
Interpretation of CERT results
For patients with a high CERT score, it is recommended to intensify the coronary artery disease treatment. Motivation for treatment and lifestyle changes can be provided by using CERT to flag a more concrete and specific risk for a heart attack or cardiovascular death. In addition, a high-risk score can support decisions to intensify cholesterol lowering medication. In addition, using CERT to monitor the changes in risk will improve patient motivation and commitment to the treatment over a longer period of time.
Patients with a high risk of diabetes are recommended to motivate for lifestyle changes. For example, 5% weight loss or moderate physical activity may reduce the risk. Commitment to life-style change can be supported by raising the more specific risk of type II diabetes. The Diabetes Risk Score measurement can be used to follow-up the effects of lifestyle changes.
How to treat a patient with a high CERT risk score?
- Increase follow-up to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment
- Motivation – commitment to treatment and lifestyle changes is particularly important in these patients
- Lifestyle changes (smoking cessation, diet, exercise, stress management)
- Optimization or initiation of drug therapy
- Consider imaging or exercise testing
CERT Heart Attack Risk Test was developed by Finnish Zora Biosciences Oy.
Laaksonen et al. 2016 Plasma ceramides predict cardiovascular death in patients with stable coronary artery disease and acute coronary syndromes beyond LDL-cholesterol, European Heart Journal, 28 April 2016
Cheng et al. 2015 Plasma concentrations of molecular lipid species in relation to coronary plaque characteristics and cardiovascular outcome: Results of the ATHEROREMO-IVUS study, Atherosclerosis 2015 Dec;243(2):560-6
Mantovani et al. 2018 Association between plasma ceramides and inducible myocardial ischemia in patients with established or suspected coronary artery disease undergoing myocardial perfusion scintigraphy. Metabolism 2018. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2018.05.006