A simple blood test could predict a heart attack, a new research published on Friday showed.

The new “fluid phase biopsy” test, developed by researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California, can help doctors to detect patients who are at high risk of a heart attack by identifying circulating endothelial cells, or CEC, in their bloodstream. These cells can be used as biomarkers to predict heart attacks, researchers said.

The study, published in Physical Biology, showed that the new test, called the HD-CEC Assay, successfully differentiated patients who were undergoing treatment for heart attack from individuals in a healthy control group by identifying CEC cells in their bloodstream. Researchers found that these cells are found in significantly higher levels in the bloodstream of heart-attack patients, especially in individuals with myocardial infarction.

“The goal of this paper was to establish evidence that these circulating endothelial cells can be detected reliably in patients following a heart attack and do not exist in healthy controls, which we have achieved,” Peter Kuhn, who led the team, told The Almagest.

The HD-CEC test uses multicolor imagery and computer-assisted calculations to spot CECs in an individual’s blood. A heart attack is caused when artery walls are hardened due to cholesterol plaque accumulation over a period of time. The plaque build-up in the arteries could lead to their rupture causing a blood clot to form at the site, blocking the blood flow and leading to heart attack. The CECs that line artery walls enter bloodstream only when arteries begin to inflame and rupture.

“That means that probably these plaques, as they get ready to rupture, it’s not a single event. They start falling apart over time beforehand,” Kunh told Fox News.

According to the researchers, the presence of such cells in the bloodstream could indicate a possible heart attack. Researchers have now decided to test the technology, which uses as small sample of blood, on patients with heart-attack symptoms. And they believe the test can help to determine the symptoms are linked to a heart attack or not.