Ultrasensitive CRP- As the medical community begins to realize that coronary artery disease is decidedly an inflammatory and not a cholesterol disease, more clinical studies are appearing in the medical literature advising physicians of effective ways to evaluate patients. Several studies have looked at various products in the body that give us evidence of the amount of inflammation that is present in the arteries. One such highly preferred blood test is the highly sensitive C – reactive protein (hs CRP). This test measures the arterial inflammation currently present. This test is actually a better predictor of who is going to develop heart disease than a cholesterol level is. Why shouldn’t it be? In fact doing highly sensitive CRP’s allows the physician to identify those patients who have normal cholesterol levels and may still be at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Homocysteine blood levels- checking patients fasting homocysteine blood levels is not only easy but also critical in determining whether they are problematic or not. Hopefully, as the test becomes more standardized between labs it will become more affordable. Presently, a serum homocysteine level test costs between 45 to 150 dollars.
Heart calcification scores- Most medical centers have now made modifications to their CT scanners, so they can determine the amount of calcification, or plaque build-up, present in coronary arteries. This is a simple, noninvasive procedure, but its cost usually ranges between 250 and 600 dollars. This test is recommended for those patients with significant risk factors for or a strong family history of heart disease.
If the test does show calcifications, it gives a doctor some feel for how serious the problem is and how aggressively to treat the patient. We must remember, more than 30% of the time the first sign of heart disease is sudden death.