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Tex Heart Inst J. 2013;40(1):17-29.

Components of the complete blood count as risk predictors for coronary heart disease: in-depth review and update.

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  • 1Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital (Dr. Madjid), Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease, and several inflammatory biomarkers, such as C-reactive protein, have been used to predict the risk of coronary heart disease. High white blood cell count is a strong and independent predictor of coronary risk in patients of both sexes, with and without coronary heart disease. A high number of white blood cells and their subtypes (for example, neutrophils, monocytes, lymphocytes, and eosinophils) are associated with the presence of coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, and stroke. The coronary heart disease risk ratios associated with a high white blood cell count are comparable to those of other inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein. In addition, other components of the complete blood count, such as hematocrit and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, also are associated with coronary heart disease, and the combination of the complete blood count with the white blood cell count can improve our ability to predict coronary heart disease risk. These tests are inexpensive, widely available, and easy to order and interpret. They merit further research.


Atherosclerosis; biological markers/blood; complete blood count; coronary artery disease; coronary heart disease; inflammation; leukocyte count; white blood cell count

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