Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)


March 01, 2012

In This Article

Areas of Agreement and Difference

A direct comparison of recommendations for cardiovascular risk assessment in asymptomatic adults using nontraditional risk factors is provided below. The recommendations assume that a global risk assessment incorporating multiple traditional risk factors (e.g., the Framingham Model) has been performed.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation specifically applies to those determined to be at intermediate (10%-20%) 10-year risk using traditional factors and with no history of coronary heart disease (CHD), diabetes, or any CHD risk equivalent. The American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association (ACCF/AHA) and National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry (NACB) make selected recommendations for higher-risk groups (e.g., those with known diabetes or hypertension); these topics, however, are beyond the scope of this synthesis.

Areas of Agreement

Lipoprotein and apolipoprotein assessments. According to ACCF/AHA, measurement of lipid parameters, including lipoproteins, apolipoproteins, particle size, and density, beyond a standard fasting lipid profile is not recommended. NACB similarly found insufficient evidence to recommend routine measurement of lipoprotein subclasses, lipoprotein(a), and apo B.

Situations cited by NACB in which measurement of lipoprotein (a) may be appropriate include if patient is at intermediate risk and uncertainty remains as to the use of preventive therapies and to identify individuals having a genetic predisposition toward cardiovascular disease (CVD) if there is a strong family history of premature CVD (identified during global risk assessment). NACB also states that the apo B/apo A-I ratio can be used as an alternative to the usual total cholesterol/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) ratio to determine lipoprotein-related risk for CVD.

The USPSTF addresses only lipoprotein(a) and makes no recommendation owing to insufficient evidence.

C-reactive protein. All three groups address measurement of -reactive protein (CRP) for CVD risk assessment in intermediate-risk adults. The USPSTF makes no recommendation owing to insufficient evidence. ACCF/AHA states that it may be reasonable in men ≤50 and women ≤60. According to NACB, if global risk is intermediate and uncertainty remains about the use of preventive therapies, high-sensitivity CRP (hsCRP) measurement might be useful for further stratification into a higher or lower risk category.

ACCF/AHA also addresses CRP measurement for the selection of patients for statin therapy, stating that it can be useful in men ≥50 years and women ≥60 with a low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) level < 130 mg/dL; not on lipid-lowering, hormone replacement, or immunosuppressant therapy; without clinical CHD, diabetes, chronic kidney disease (CKD), severe inflammatory conditions, or contraindications to statins.

ACCF/AHA and NACB address measurement of CRP in patients at other risk stratifications, with ACCF/AHA recommending against measurement in high-risk adults and in low-risk men <50 years and low-risk women ≤60 years. NACB recommends against measurement in adults with a 10-year predicted risk < 5%.

Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2). ACCF/AHA examined Lp-PLA2 and concluded that it might be reasonable for assessment in intermediate-risk asymptomatic adults. According to NACB, although Lp-PLA2 seems promising, complete evaluation was not possible at the time of guideline publication because of the large amount of pending data.

Fibrinogen and white blood cells (WBC). NACB found that while both fibrinogen and WBC are independent markers of CVD risk, measurement of either is not recommended for this purpose. USPSTF also examined WBC, and makes no recommendation for its measurement owing to insufficient evidence.

Homocysteine level. USPSTF and NACB address homocysteine level screening. USPSTF makes no recommendation because of insufficient evidence; NACB states that screening is not warranted in healthy individuals.

Natriuretic peptides. Of the two groups to address natriuretic peptides, ACCF/AHA and NACB, neither recommend measurement for CVD risk assessment in asymptomatic adults.

Areas of Difference

Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), ankle-brachial index (ABI), calcium scoring methods. ACCF/AHA and USPSTF address measurement of carotid -IMT, -ABI, and CAC for cardiovascular risk assessment in asymptomatic adults at intermediate risk. According to ACCF/AHA, all three are reasonable. The USPSTF, however, makes no recommendation owing to insufficient evidence.


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