We have listed the 'classic' cardiovascular risk markers as LDL-C, HDL-C and triglycerides. But there are many more cardiovascular risk markers as well as cardiovascular risk factors. A cardiovascular risk factor is a condition (not a laboratory analyte) that is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Examples include:
- Gender (males are at increased risk)
- Cigarette Smoking
There are also negative risk factors, factors which decrease a person's risk of cardiovascular disease. Examples include:
- Optimal HDL-C concentration
- Moderate alcohol intake
This course will not focus on cardiovascular risk factors. Instead we will focus on newer, emerging cardiovascular risk markers. There are well over twenty well-studied cardiovascular risk markers; in this course we will focus on some of the more established markers and the ones which are becoming more commonly measured in the clinical laboratory. These include apolipoprotein A1/apolipoprotein B100, Lp(a), oxidized LDL, LpPLA2, hsCRP and lipoprotein particle size and concentration.
It is important to remember that the association between a cardiovascular risk marker and actually having or developing cardiovascular disease is a statistical one. The fact that a patient has a particular risk marker which is abnormal simply increases the probability of developing cardiovascular disease, it does not mean that he or she is certain to develop cardiovascular disease. Conversely, if an individual does not have a particular cardiovascular risk marker present it does not guarantee protection against cardiovascular disease. We must always remember that some percentage of individuals who have heart attacks or strokes will not have abnormal risk markers present.