Sunday, November 16, 2008

Breakthrough study finds simple blood test may detect heart disease

From the Globe and Mail:
Measuring certain proteins through a simple blood test may make heart disease easier to detect and a lot less deadly, according to a study published online Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

People with healthy LDL-cholesterol levels but elevated levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive proteins experienced a nearly 50-per-cent reduction in the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death with a daily dose of a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, the study found.

The reduction in heart-disease risk among people who appear healthy and lack risk factors such as elevated cholesterol – which describes about half of those who experience heart disease – is such a significant finding that the drug trial was cut short in order to publish the results sooner.

The nearly 18,000 patients followed in the study had normal cholesterol levels and slightly elevated levels of C-reactive proteins – markers of inflammation that are known indicators of atherosclerosis, or blockage of the arteries.

The researchers suspected statin medications such as rosuvastatin would lower the risk of cardiovascular events in such patients, whose LDL-cholesterol levels were below 3.36 millimoles per litre, but were surprised by how well they worked. ...more

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