Coronary Calcium Beats C-Reactive Protein for Predicting Heart Attack and Stroke Risk, Study Finds

ScienceDaily

The presence of calcium in coronary arteries is a much better predictor of heart attack and stroke than C-reactive protein among people with normal levels of LDL cholesterol, according to a study of more than 2,000 people led by a Johns Hopkins heart specialist.

Results of the study, published in the August 19, 2011, issue of The Lancet, have important implications for deciding whether cholesterol-lowering statin medication should be prescribed for people who have heart disease risk factors but normal levels of LDL, the so-called "bad" cholesterol. An estimated six million American adults fall into that gray-zone category.

The goal of the new study, which followed 2,083 people for six years, was to further refine who was at higher risk and, therefore, might benefit from taking statin medications. Conversely, the study also looked to define which groups may be at low risk and not in need of the drugs. The participants in the study were volunteers in the ongoing Multi-Ethnic Study on Atherosclerosis, known as MESA, which is an NIH-funded Hopkins-affiliated study.

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