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New Model to Better Predict Heart Risk

Family History, CRP Testing Could Improve Assessment in Women

CRP Value Questioned

Cardiologist Roger S. Blumenthal, MD, tells WebMD his own work at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., showed the importance of including family history in assessment of cardiovascular risk.

“Right away, practitioners around the country should start incorporating family history into their assessment of [cardiovascular] risk,” he says.

The advice regarding C-reactive protein is not quite as clear. CRP blood testing is not currently recommended as a routine test for measuring cardiovascular risk.

In a 2003 policy statement, officials with the American Heart Association (AHA) and the CDC wrote, “We have no evidence that treatment strategies based on CRP levels improve survival or reduce cardiovascular complications.”

Blumenthal says the new study may change that.

“The [new findings] support the idea that when a doctor or patient is on the fence about lifelong aspirin or lipid-lowering therapy, CRP testing can be helpful,” he says.

But New York cardiologist and AHA spokeswoman Lori Mosca, MD, PhD, remains unconvinced.

“CRP testing is not routinely recommended nor has it been proven that this test lowers risk,” she tells WebMD.

Mosca adds that risk prediction models are not widely used in the clinical setting.

“There have been many attempts to create more precise models to predict [cardiovascular] risk, but most treatment decisions are based on clinical practice guidelines," says Mosca. "If a patient has high blood pressure you treat it, regardless of what a prediction model says.”

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