Blood Test Helps Identify Women at Risk for Heart Attack
WebMD News Archive
Abrams, who is a professor of medicine at the University of New Mexico and a
leader in preventive cardiology, tells WebMD that the study is a
"blockbuster." Abrams served on an American Heart Association task
force that issued the latest guidelines on risk factors just two months ago,
but at that time, this information wasn't published. "At the time, CRP
wasn't ready for prime time, but now if it's not ready, it is definitely in the
wings. This paper raises the real possibility of altering policy and
guidelines. If one recommends [cholesterol] profiles on healthy adults, why not
Another researcher not affiliated with the study, David M. Herrington, MD,
MHS, tells WebMD that "the data clearly show that using hs-CRP helps
identify people who are at high risk. What we don't know is whether or not
these people will favorably respond to one or more forms of treatment."
Herrington is associate professor of medicine at Wake Forest University School
of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.
William W. O'Neill, MD, director of cardiology at William Beaumont Hospital
in Detroit, says the most exciting aspect of this latest report is the very
real possibility that hs-CRP may finally help cardiologists identify the
"30% to 50% of first heart attack victims who don't fit any of the
established risk categories." But, he says, "it is still unknown if
lowering [cholesterol] will lower CRP."
Herrington says there may be another use for hs-CRP testing in
postmenopausal women. "Estrogen actually makes CRP go up, so if a woman
already has elevated CRP it may be useful to advise her to avoid estrogen,"
Finally, Abrams says that adding hs-CRP should not have a big economic
impact. "I'm told the test only costs $20 or so," he says.
- As many as half of all first-time heart attack victims do not fit into any
of the known risk categories, but researchers are finding more evidence that a
form of C-reactive protein (CRP) can better predict who will have a heart
attack, even in those with no other risk factors.
- CRP is produced in the liver as part of a response to inflammation, and a
test for a form of the substance has been recently developed.
- Some researchers believe that patients with high levels of a form of CRP
could benefit from taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, called statins, even if
their cholesterol levels are normal.