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    New Blood Test Warns of Heart Disease

    Lp-PLA2 Test Spots Heart Risk in Seemingly Healthy Seniors

    Lp-PLA2 Drug Now in Trials continued...

    Steven Nissen, MD, chairman of the Cleveland Clinic's Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, agrees that the test isn't ready for prime time. Nissen was not involved in the Daniels study.

    "This is a very intriguing study, but we are not ready to make this a major marker for screening outpatients -- at least not just yet," Nissen tells WebMD.

    That may change in a hurry. A clinical trial now under way is testing whether a drug that blocks Lp-PLA2 can help prevent heart disease. The drug, being developed by GlaxoSmithKline, is called darapladib.

    "We need to see if this inhibitor now being developed will effectively slow progression to heart disease or reduce cardiovascular events," Nissen says. "It's not enough just to see it is associated with heart disease -- we want to see if blocking this molecule prevents disease."

    Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs do prevent heart disease. But results from a recent study showed that while adding a different kind of cholesterol-lowering drug to a statin cut bad LDL cholesterol even more, it didn't seem to offer more protection against buildup of arterial plaque.

    "It may matter not just how far you decrease LDL cholesterol, but how you get there," Nissen says. "One of the things we are learning is that statins work by multiple mechanisms. Their ability to lower LDL is not the whole story. It remains to be seen if lowering LDL by non-statin drugs is an effective way to prevent heart disease."

    Daniels and colleagues report their findings in the March 4 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The Lp-PLA2 test used in the study is made by diaDexus Inc. While Daniels has no financial interests in diaDexus, some of her co-authors are employed by or have interests in the company.

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