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Clinical Lab Tests Measure Heart Disease Risk; Guide Prevention And Treatment

Predicting Risk of Coronary Disease

Lab tests also can help predict a patient's risk of having a heart attack. A blood test for high sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) detects the presence of inflammation that can lead to blockage of arteries. The CRP test, combined with tests for cholesterol and triglycerides, helps doctors evaluate the presence of heart disease. The CRP test costs between $60 and $150, but can be critical in helping avoid heart attack that can cost $28,000.

In one Harvard Women's Health study, CRP was a better predictor of heart attack risk than even cholesterol levels. Women in the study group with the highest CRP levels were four times as likely to have died from coronary disease or to have suffered a nonfatal heart attack or stroke.

People who have high CRP levels are often treated with cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. One study showed that use of a statin drug in people with high CRP levels --- even though they did not have high levels of the "bad" LDL cholesterol --- led to significant decreases in major cardiovascular events such as heart attacks or stroke.

"Clinical lab tests like the CRP test can identify patients at risk so physicians and patients can take the steps necessary to reduce it," said Mertz.

The American Clinical Laboratory Association is a non-profit group representing the nation's clinical  laboratories. See www.acla.com .  Results for Life, the group's educational campaign, focuses on the value of laboratory medicine. See www.labresultsforlife.org.

Contact: Scott McGoohan, 202-637-9466

SOURCE American Clinical Laboratory Association

Copyright 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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