Despite significant advances in the treatment of cardiovascular
(heart) disease, it is still the leading cause of death in the United States.
Did you know that Diabetes, especially Type 2 Diabetes is a major risk factor
for cardiovascular disease? Death from heart disease is 2-4 times more likely in
adults with diabetes than their counterparts without diabetes.
There are several known factors that can increase your risk of
developing and potentially dying from heart disease. Some of those include being
male, obesity(especially weight in the abdomen), using any form of tobacco, and
having higher total and bad LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, and high blood
pressure. These are all considered “classic” risk factors and are commonly
monitored by healthcare professionals. There are other biological markers that
can be watched to get a larger picture of what is really going on in your body
with your heart and blood vessels. One must remember that these additional
markers and tests are not as thoroughly researched as the above mentioned
markers, but they may provide additional information that may prove useful in
certain situations. This is particularly true when “classic” markers give mixed signals.
What exactly is a biological marker? Biomarkers are considered an
“indicator of normal body processes, disease-related processes, or response to a
therapeutic intervention.” Diabetes Self-management May/June 2013. The
relationship of any such measurement to health or disease is established through
scientific studies involving both healthy and sick individuals. This implies that
as we continue to do research any one of the following biomarkers may gain or
wane in its importance. Experts are still trying to determine if early detection
and treatment of cardiovascular disease based on cardiovascular biomarkers is
useful in delaying or preventing the onset of cardiovascular disease.
One of the most commonly used cardiovascular biomarkers is High
Sensitivity C-reactive protein. This marker is an indicator of inflammation and
may indicate the presence of atherosclerosis, a fatty buildup of the arteries.
Out of all of the currently used biomarkers, High Sensitivity C-reactive protein
has the greatest connection between elevated levels of the protein and heart
disease and future cardiac events (Heart attacks and strokes). It is commonly
found that people with diabetes have elevated levels of this protein.
B-type Natriuretic Peptide. This biomarker is most frequently used to help detect and determine the severity of congestive heart failure. B-type natriuretic peptides are released into the blood in order to help the heart which enlarges as a response to not being able to adequately pump blood through the body. Enlargement of the heart is common with heart failure. A tendency towards elevated levels of this peptide would correspond with the risk of heart failure. Some studies have suggested that decreases in this biomarker can be beneficial.
Adiponectin is hormone that aids in controlling blood glucose levels and the breakdown of fats in the body. Though various studies have been done scientists are still not exactly sure why reduced levels of Adiponectin are associated with various “classic” risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and atherosclerosis.
It is good to remember that there are very few cardiovascular biomarkers that are being used at the present time and not all of these will be used by every healthcare professional. However, since these tests may yield greater information as to your cardiovascular risk before other “classic” risk factors are present, especially if you have diabetes, it doesn’t hurt to ask your health care provider to do some or all of these tests.
If you fall into a high risk group for cardiovascular disease,
try some of the following tips to help prevent cardiovascular
Ask questions. Education is a very powerful tool to have on your side. Especially if
you have a family history of cardiovascular disease or you have
Understand Biomarkers. By understanding which biomarker tests may be most beneficial to your particular situation, you will know exactly what to ask your doctor for.
Gather Information. Check out www.labtestsonline.org
Know the “classic” risk factors and how they affect you.
Develop habits for heart healthy eating, including portion control for weight and blood glucose control.
Participate in regular physical activity. Please contact your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.
Minimize risky behaviors. Quit smoking, chewing, or any other form of tobacco
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