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Biomarkers Predict Heart Deaths
Date:5/14/2008

Studies find they might add to traditional risk factors

WEDNESDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- A bundle of four offbeat biomarkers accurately predicted the risk of death from cardiovascular disease in a study of older Swedish men, researchers report.

It is just a preliminary finding in a long process that might one day lead to widespread medical use of these biomarkers in addition to well-established risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, said Dr. Johan Arnlov, a researcher at Uppsala University, and lead author of a report in the May 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

But the study is important, because it goes against the widely publicized findings of two American trials which found that unconventional biomarkers did not add clinical information over and above that provided by established risk factors.

"There are two major explanations why there is a difference in our study," Arnlov said. "First, our study was based on a cohort entirely of elderly men. In the elderly, established cardiovascular risk factors have been shown to be less predictive. Also, we used entirely different biomarkers than in those studies. Our biomarkers may be better risk markers."

In the study, Arnlov and his colleagues tested 1,135 men, average age 71, for four body chemicals: troponin I, brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), cystatin C and C-reactive protein. Over a 10-year follow-up, "all of the biomarkers significantly predicted the risk of death from cardiovascular causes," the researchers said. The predictive value was as great for men who did not have cardiovascular disease at the start of the study as for those who did.

Tests for the four markers already are in clinical use, in some cases widely. Tropinin I is produced when heart muscle is damaged, and a test for its levels is used to assess the probability of heart damage in people who have chest pain. Cystatic C levels test fo
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