is the VOA Special English Health Report.
Cardiovascular disease is the world's
leading cause of death. It includes heart attack, stroke and high blood
the years, researchers have identified several substances in the blood that can
serve as what they call cardiac biomarkers. These are used to measure the
presence and development of cardiovascular disease.
have increasingly tried to use these biomarkers to identify people who are at
high risk of developing heart disease. But a new study has found that they
offer little help in this way.
team from Massachusetts General Hospital and Sweden's Lund University studied
how effective the biomarkers are as predictors. Thomas Wang at the Mass General
Heart Center was the senior author of the study.
WANG: "What we found is that, in fact, even after measuring those
additional biomarkers that there wasn't a great deal of benefit in terms of
understanding who was more likely to develop heart disease"
Doctor Wang says they did
identify some combinations of biomarkers that improved predictions of heart
attacks and strokes. But, he says, there is not enough evidence to justify
measuring these in everybody.
WANG: "It's still possible that in certain patients, measuring these
biomarkers would be helpful. There are some patients for whom physicians are
really on the fence about whether to give one therapy or another. And in those
cases having the biomarker which adds a little bit of information may be
helpful in terms of decision making. But for the majority of patients, having
the information of the biomarker probably wouldn't make a difference."
Wang hopes future research will discover biomarkers that are better able to
predict the risk of cardiovascular disease. But for now, he says, doctors
should depend on traditional risk factors. These include a history of high
blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, diabetes, obesity, physical
inactivity or poor nutrition.
separate study found no support for a theory that a biomarker called C-reactive
protein causes heart disease. Earlier research suggested that the more of the
protein in people's blood, the more likely they are to develop heart disease.
The new study confirmed a link, but did not find evidence that the C-reactive protein
causes the disease.
Both studies appeared in the July first
issue of Journal of the American Medical Association.
The World Health Organization estimates that
cardiovascular disease killed seventeen and a half million people in two
thousand five. That was thirty percent of all deaths. Eight out of ten happened
in low and middle income countries. At current growth rates, the W.H.O. expects
the number to reach twenty million by two thousand fifteen.
And that's the VOA Special English
Health Report, written by June Simms. I'm Steve Ember.