Do you want to know what the best medicine for cardiovascular health is? It isn't some heart-shaped pill with some magic formula of this and that's. No, it's early diagnosis and prevention!
Yeah, that may not sound as exciting as a magic pill, but it's a fact that most health problems are manageable when caught early. None more so than cardiovascular disease. The issue plaguing many doctors and researchers is how can we catch things like hypertension, atrial fibrillation, a heart attack, or outright heart failure before they start causing problems.
Early diagnostics for cardiovascular disease have improved tremendously over the years. The problem is that most of these improvements have allowed us to get a general read on cardiovascular disease over a wide swath of the population. They can give you a general idea of your risk, but a single patient may not get much meaningful information beyond "Hey, you should probably exercise more." In other words, what we need are specific and accurate tests that can tell you your risk of developing a certain cardiovascular problem.
Biomarkers are one way to try and reveal problems before they arise. B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is one such biomarker that can be used to predict a patient's risk of developing cardiovascular problems. While others exist, there is still a lack of a robust test with the accuracy required for actual use. Seeing this issue, a team from the University of Otago in New Zealand ran a study searching for more biomarkers, bringing us closer to that testing goal.
The study looked to find free circulating biomarkers that corresponded to patients that had developed cardiovascular issues. Importantly, they made sure to find ones that were independent of a standard risk score, PREDICT-1, so they could find ones that could be included in future tests. The study used various techniques, including ELISA and mass spectrometry, and found three strong candidates; hemoglobin, fibrinogen, and fetuin A. Hemoglobin and fibrinogen seemed to correspond to more immediate risk, while fetuin-A may correspond to overall risk.
All three of the candidates found in this study have been looked at before, and this study gives even more credence to their use. Fibrinogen has a growing amount of evidence for its use as a biomarker, hemoglobin has been related to cardiovascular disease but not with its risk assessment, and fetuin is being looked at. Any new evidence towards a powerful diagnostic tool is helpful, and this study provided it.
The study concludes, "Using DIA-MS we have identified eight protein biomarkers that may be independently associated with near-future CVD events (< 3 years) in asymptomatic individuals of older age with a relatively low cardiovascular risk."