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Inflammation Markers May Help Predict Stroke Risk
Date:1/8/2009

They should be used when assessing traditional risk factors, experts say

THURSDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Two molecular signs -- or "biomarkers" -- of inflammation may provide useful information when trying to assess a person's risk of stroke, new research says.

"If you are very high or very low risk, adding these markers does not change things much," said study lead author Dr. Vijay Nambi, a cardiologist at the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "But if we are not sure if you are at high risk or low risk, they can provide you with more information."

The markers in question are C-reactive protein (CRP) and lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2). Both are indicators of inflammation, and both -- especially CRP -- have been well studied as potential predictors of cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack and stroke.

A first assessment of the risk of stroke must start with the well-known risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and lack of physical activity, Nambi said.

In the new report on the long-running Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, those risk factors were used to describe 12,762 participants as having a low risk of stroke (less than 2 percent) within the next five years, intermediate risk (2 percent to 5 percent), or high risk (greater than 5 percent) within five years.

Tests for the two biomarkers reclassified 4 percent, 39 percent, and 34 percent of the low-, intermediate- and high-risk categories, respectively.

In all, 4 percent of the individuals were reclassified from the low- to the intermediate-risk group; 10.7 percent and 27.9 percent were reclassified from the intermediate-risk to the high- and low-risk groups, respectively; and 33 percent of the individuals classified as high risk were reclassified to the intermediate-risk group. No individuals
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