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Biomarkers Ability to Predict Heart Disease and Stroke is Limited

A study of the use of biomarkers to predict the risk of cardiovascular disease and death in an apparently healthy population has found that, even though some measurements// are associated with future cardiovascular events, their usefulness for predicting risk in individuals may be limited. The report from the Framingham Heart Study appears in the Dec. 21 New England Journal of Medicine.

"We found that several contemporary biomarkers were associated with future cardiovascular disease or death, over and above what was indicated by established risk factors; but even in combination their utility for risk prediction was modest," says Thomas J. Wang, MD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Division of Cardiology, the report’s lead author. "High biomarker levels can successfully identify groups of people at risk, but their ability to predict an individual person’s risk – a goal of ‘personalized medicine’ – is still limited."

Many previous studies have identified potential biomarkers – laboratory measurements that may indicate a particular biological state – of cardiovascular risk. These include blood levels of C-reactive protein, B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), and homocysteine, elevated levels of which have been associated with increased risk. However, few studies have looked at the use of multiple biomarkers, either to compare their usefulness or to evaluate the testing of several markers at once.

The current study was designed specifically to look at the ability of a multimarker testing approach to evaluate cardiovascular risk in a group of apparently healthy individuals. Participants were members of the Framingham Offspring Study, which follows a group of adult children of participants in the original Framingham Heart Study to evaluate risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease. During participants’ regular study visits between 1995 and 1998, they were tested for 10 potential biomarkers of cardiovascular ri
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