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February 8, 1999

Emerging Noninvasive Biochemical Measures to Predict Cardiovascular Risk

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee, Memphis.

Arch Intern Med. 1999;159(3):237-245. doi:10.1001/archinte.159.3.237

New predictors of cardiovascular events are needed to improve the accuracy of risk stratification. Such predictors should be easily measurable in the population and potentially modifiable. This review reports on new biomarkers that are closely linked to the pathogenic mechanisms underlying the progression of the atherosclerotic plaque leading to rupture and thrombosis that ultimately precipitate acute clinical events, such as stroke and myocardial infarction. These risk factors have been associated with subclinical or clinical cardiovascular disease in large populations and include markers of lipoprotein and lipid metabolism, vitamin B12 metabolism, fibrinolysis, coagulation, inflammation, infection, endothelial dysfunction, the angiotensin system, and oxidative stress. For other key processes of atherosclerosis and cardiac disease, such as apoptosis or programmed cell death, there are currently no markers that can be measured noninvasively. Atherosclerosis is a multifactorial condition and possibly only a subset of factors are the main determinants of disease in a given patient. A better definition of the cardiovascular risk profile will help to better target primary and secondary prevention. Further epidemiological studies are needed to characterize the actual predictive and clinical value of these new emerging cardiovascular biomarkers.