Sun 22 Feb 2009
News item on predicting coronary artery narrowing
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A group of Austrian researchers have looked at several newer markers for coronary artery disease and compared them to traditional risk factors such as LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio, presence of high blood pressure
, smoking and the subject's age. The new markers were N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT- proBNP), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP)
and gamma-glutamyltransferase (gamma-GGT)
The researchers measured all these markers in a large group of men and women who had been referred for coronary angiography, a special X-ray technique that shows whether the coronary arteries are narrowed by atherosclerotic heart disease and the heart's blood supply is compromised thus increasing the risk of heart attack. None of the subjects had experienced a heart attack in the past.
Of the three new markers tested only NT- proBNP was associated with the presence of significant coronary artery narrowing on angiography. However the predictive value of even this test was low and it did not add any extra information beyond that provided by the traditional risk factors.
Thus these three markers tested seem not to be useful in detecting the presence of this fairly advanced stage of coronary artery disease. Our news article from June 13 2007 "Have new lab tests improved the prediction of heart attacks" reporting on the Framingham Heart Study also showed that NT-proBNP and hs-CRP did not add any extra benefit over measuring just the traditional risk factors.