U of M study finds new risk factors do not improve assessment of coronary heart disease risk

Routinely screening for C-Reactive Proteins (CRP) and performing other novel tests has little value when assessing risk for coronary heart disease, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

Research published in the July 10, 2006, issue of Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that routine measurement of CRP and other new risk markers does not significantly improve the assessment of future coronary heart disease risk in the general population. The study reinforces the accuracy of assessing risk according to standard markers including, age, race, sex, cholesterol levels, smoking habits, diabetes, and blood pressure.

CRP is a blood test that measures the concentration of a special type of protein produced in the liver that is present during episodes of acute inflammation, as might occur in the arteries of the heart or with infection. Some physicians believe measuring very low amounts of CRP in the blood with high sensitivity-CRP screenings provides information for the assessment of heart disease risk.

"Contrary to previously reported research, this study shows little value in routinely adding CRP and other novel risk markers to clinical assessment of future cardiovascular risk," said Aaron Folsom, M.D., M.P.H., professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. "This is definitely a topic that should continue to be researched in order to define the benefit of the test in regards to heart disease risk and preventative therapy."

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The study began in 1987 and followed subjects for more than a decade as part of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC). The association between 19 new risk markers and incidents of coronary heart disease were examined in 15,792 adults. Risk markers included CRP, additional markers of inflammation, markers of blood clotting, endothelial function, blood B vitamin levels, and antibodies to infectious diseases. The ARIC study is a collaborative study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.


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