A key predictor of mortality in coronary artery disease (CAD) patients, has been identified by a team of Vancouver-based researchers.
According to researchers, the finding means that specialists can better determine how to treat and improve outcomes for patients with CAD.
Coronary artery disease is the most frequent cause of heart disease and occurs when important blood vessels become narrow or blocked and can no longer give enough blood to meet the heart's demand.
The researchers said that high levels of an enzyme, myeloperoxidase, in the blood of CAD patients more than doubles the risk for death over a 13 year period. Myeloperoxidase is an enzyme associated with oxidative stress, which damages arterial tissue.
The research team looked at blood samples and records from a group of patients admitted to hospital in the early 1990s with symptoms of heart disease.
Over a 13-year period, mortality was more than double for patients with high blood levels of myeloperoxidase than for those with lower levels.
Based on this work, the researchers were able to develop a new classification of risk for CAD patients based on their levels of myeloperoxidase.
Measurement of the enzyme provides added predictive value for cardiovascular death when compared to traditional risk factors such as smoking and diabetes.
"We hope that the discovery of new markers of cardiovascular risk will help identify specific patients who could benefit from more aggressive treatment strategies," said lead investigator, Dr. John Hill.
The study has been published in the prestigious Journal of the American College of Cardiology.