Skin sterol provides new information about heart disease risk


Calgary, Alberta (October 26, 2004) --- The ability to identify those at greatest risk for heart disease remains a significant public health challenge. The accumulation of sterol in the skin tissues, as measured by the PREVU* Point of Care Sterol Test, provides new information about a patient's risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), according to data presented yesterday at the annual Canadian Cardiovascular Congress. Additionally, skin sterol, specifically skin tissue cholesterol, measured non-invasively, may have value in stratifying patients with established CAD who have been treated with cholesterol-lowering medications.

"Our findings confirm previous clinical evidence that skin sterol provides new information about heart disease risk independent of blood cholesterol and other traditional risk factors," said Dr. Milan Gupta, Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Medicine, McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, and Cardiologist, Division of Cardiology, William Osler Health Centre, in Brampton, Ontario, principal investigator of the clinical trial. "Additionally, we have gained important new data about skin sterol levels in high-risk patients, particularly patients with a history of angina and diabetes."

The abstract presented at the conference, held in Calgary, Alberta, was Skin Tissue Cholesterol is Associated with Angina, Diabetes and History of Stroke/TIA in Subjects with Coronary Artery Disease, by Dr. Milan Gupta; Michelle Tsigoulis; and Michael Evelegh, PhD, of IMI International Medical Innovations

About the Study

Skin sterol was evaluated in 300 patients with proven CAD, 90% of whom were taking statins. Patients were examined at baseline and annual clinic visits as part of the PRACTICE clinical registry (Prospective Assessment of Cardiovascular Risk and Treatment in Canadians of Varying Ethnicity), which is ongoing. Other novel markers of risk measured in the study included hs-CRP, lipoprotein (a), apolipoprotein B and measures of insulin sensitivity.

Key findings of the study included:

  • Skin sterol appears to provide new information about CAD risk;
  • Skin sterol levels were elevated in high-risk subjects, demonstrating a positive correlation to angina (p=0.01) and diabetes (p=0.001) when adjusted for age and race;
  • Serum, or blood, markers were not positively correlated with prior stroke, angina or diabetes; and
  • Skin sterol values were higher in Caucasians than in non-Caucasians (p=0.002).

    Previous studies of patients not taking cholesterol-lowering medications have shown that skin sterol and blood cholesterol are not correlated, but that there is a relationship between skin sterol and history of heart attacks, as well as a correlation to various markers of cardiovascular risk, including Framingham risk score, ICAM-1, coronary calcium, and coronary artery disease.

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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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