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Clin Chem. 2012 Jan;58(1):72-82. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2011.165712. Epub 2011 Nov 28.

Biomarkers and cardiovascular risk assessment for primary prevention: an update.

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Cardiology Division and Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



Interest in cardiovascular biomarkers in primary prevention has increased dramatically in the past decade. This increase has been fueled by an improved understanding of cardiovascular pathophysiology, as well as novel technologies for biomarker identification.


In this review we provide a brief overview of recent concepts in the evaluation of screening biomarkers, because biomarkers may behave differently when used for screening as opposed to diagnosis or disease staging. The following specific biomarker examples are then discussed, with a focus on data from primary prevention studies: high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, B-type natriuretic peptide, lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2, and high-sensitivity troponin T. The article concludes by addressing novel platforms for biomarker discovery, reviewing recent examples from the field of metabolomics.


An ongoing challenge is to develop screening strategies that can identify individuals at risk for cardiovascular events well before symptoms appear. For this purpose, the measurement of soluble biomarkers could be an important adjunct to traditional cardiovascular risk assessment. Recent studies highlight both the strengths and limitations of "novel" circulating biomarkers, and suggest that substantial work is still needed to identify biomarkers that are sufficiently accurate and cost-effective for routine use in primary prevention.

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