Blood substances are an additional factor in risk
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/09/2012 -- Tests for two substances in the blood might help identify people who are likely to heart attack or stroke, a British study has found.
The liver produces C-reactive protein and fibrinogen in reaction to inflammation in the body.
The study was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Although the testing could help some patients likely to have a cardiovascular event, the proportion of patients who would benefit is relatively small, said Dr. Emanuele Di Angelantonio, the lead researcher in the study who also is a medical lecturer at the University of Cambridge.
“In a study of people without known cardiovascular disease,” Di Angelantonio told HealthDay News, “we estimated that under current treatment guidelines, one extra cardiovascular disease outcome would be prevented over a period of 10 years for approximately every 440 people in whom (C-reactive protein) levels were assessed or approximately every 490 people in whom fibrinogen levels were assessed.”
The researchers looked at 52 studies with a total of more than 246,000 people without history of cardiovascular illness. De Angelantonio’s team found that a few strokes or heart attacks could be prevented by testing fibrinogen or C-reactive fiber in addition to other tests.
“If (C-reactive protein) or fibrinogen was assessed in people considered to be at intermediate risk after initial screening with the use of conventional risk factors alone – and if such measurement of a biomarker of inflammation were to be coupled with initiation of statin (therapy),” Di Angelantonio said, “our data suggests (that such assessment) could help prevent approximately 30 additional cardiovascular events over the course of 10 years.”
The value of such testing remains controversial, said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, cardiology professor at UCLA. “Many prior studies have demonstrated that blood tests for C-reactive protein and fibrinogen, when assessed in isolation, are predictive of subsequent cardiovascular events,” said Fonarow, who also is a spokesman for the American Heart Association. “However, the extent to which these tests offer incremental value beyond traditional-risk cardiovascular-risk models has not been well defined and is the subject of much debate.
The cost of testing also is an issue, Fonarow said, and it may not be covered by health plans.
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