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Blood Tests May Help Predict Stroke



11/29/2005 11:18:45 AM

Testing for high blood levels of two proteins involved in inflammation -- Lp-PLA2 and CRP -- may help identify people who are at increased risk for stroke, new research suggests. Ultimately, measuring these proteins could help guide preventative strategies or they may even serve as targets for new drugs, according to the report in the Archives of Internal Medicine. "Predictors of stroke have received less attention than predictors of coronary heart disease, and often it has simply been assumed that what predicts coronary heart disease also predicts stroke," lead author Dr. Christie M. Ballantyne, from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told Reuters Health. "However, this is not always the case. For example, cholesterol levels have been shown to correlate with coronary heart disease risk, but not with stroke risk." Ballantyne said that measuring Lp-PLA2 and CRP levels appears to provide information above and beyond traditional stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure. "For patients who already have a high or low risk of stroke, measuring these levels may not be particularly useful." For patients with intermediate risk, however, these tests may help in selecting a preventative strategy. The findings are based on a study of nearly 13,000 apparently healthy middle-age subjects who were followed for about 6 years to assess the rate of stroke and other outcomes. The study focused on 194 subjects who experienced a stroke and 766 similar subjects who did not. Stroke patients had significantly higher levels of both Lp-PLA2 and CRP than did comparison subjects. By contrast, and in agreement with previous reports, LDL "bad" cholesterol levels were similar in each group. Further analysis showed that having high levels of either Lp-PLA2 or CRP nearly doubled the risk of stroke. With high levels of both, the risk of stroke was increased more than 11-fold.

Read at Reuters


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