Biomarkers that predict heart diseases can predict strokes too. That’s because both stroke and heart diseases have same underlying pathology. Besides being leading causes of death, both stroke and heart diseases share some four or five common risk factors too. These include smoking, high cholesterol, Diabetes and high blood pressure.
However, people who are at a borderline of either of these risk factors are prone to suffer both heart disease and stroke, also known as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cerebrovascular disease as these factors promote formation of plaque in the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart and brain.
Any change/inflammation in the blood vessels that bring blood to the brain lead to a stroke. The condition is also referred as a brain attack. Likewise, changes in the blood vessels bringing blood to the heart causes a heart attack. Coronary heart disease results from a build up of cholesterol, fatty deposits and other substances in the blood vessels of the heart which forms blockages in the coronary arteries, known as plaque. This restricts the blood flow to and from the heart.
Risk factors such as smoking and diabetes, in particular, provoke inflammatory changes and promote the formation of blood clots, thus obstructing the blood flow. The one factor that strongly predicts both heart and brain health is high blood pressure. Similarly, high blood pressure is most significant risk factor for stroke as it can damage the blood vessels in the brain. Infact, many people are not even aware that they have high blood pressure because it has no visible symptoms, which is why it is called as ‘the silent killer’.
Common Biomarkers For Heart Disease and Stroke
Both heart disease and stroke are equally devastating for an individual, therefore, both conditions should be and can easily be averted. There are common markers that predict heart disease and stroke as both the diseases are integrated. Thus, for a more comprehensive assessment of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health there are some common biomarker tests which help to screen patients and thus help doctors in creating certain prevention strategies for patients.
These common biomarker tests include the following:
1. High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (Hs-CRP)
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein produced by the liver as part of our body's response to injury or infection. Basically, CRP indicates inflammation in some part the body.
Inflammation causes atherosclerosis, in which fatty deposits block our arteries. But, measuring CRP alone does not predict risk of heart disease. Its combination of hs-CRP test results with other blood test results and risk factors for heart disease that helps to create an overall picture of heart health.
Generally, people who are otherwise healthy and have normal or low cholesterol levels but have high CRP levels are more likely to develop heart disease and its complications, such as heart attacks, strokes, sudden cardiac death, etc. In fact, people with high CRP have 2 or 3 times the risk of developing heart disease and strokes compared to people with low CRP levels.
This test should be mandate for person with a family history of heart ailments. Apart from that, anyone who has diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, limited physical activity and being overweight are at an increased risk of heart disease and should get hs-CPR at the earliest for early treatment and avoid consequences. Binge alcoholism and smoking are other such factors that lead to stroke and heart attacks.
The CRP testing helps to identify such people who are susceptible of having heart disease or stroke and thus reduce their risk of heart/brain attack.
Homocystine is a common type of amino acid found in our blood by chemically altering adenosine and has the tendency to harden the walls of the blood vessels. This elevated levels of amino acid reduces the levels of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid thereby increasing the potential risk for cardiovascular diseases. Even a mild increase in the levels of homocystine (Hcy) is considered a risk factor for a number of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and neurodegenerative disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, etc. Elevations in the levels of homocysteine are very common especially among those who consume excess alcohol, diet poor in vitamins, patients with chronic kidney disease. Homocysteine has been evaluated as a potential indicator of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease thereby reducing risk of heart disease and stroke.
These blood marker tests help medical professionals to identify hidden risk for a heart attack or stroke in seemingly healthy patients; before symptoms strike.