By Michael F. Richman, MD, FACS, FCCP
Today, I write to you about a new cutting-edge biomarker that can be measured in the blood and may be a predictor of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular deaths. The marker is called Cytastin C.
I first heard about this protein in college biology but really never paid much attention to it at the time, but recently it’s become a hot topic in cardiovascular disease prevention. It is a small protein that is produced at a steady rate by virtually all the cells in your body. It’s measured in the blood and is currently used as a biomarker of kidney function and may become the gold standard test when looking for early kidney disease. New research has indicated that Cytastin C serum marker test results may also be a better indicator of a person’s potential for new onset or worsening cardiovascular disease.
Doctors use several biomarkers to figure out a patient’s risk of heart disease just like a mechanic would look at several items under the hood of your car to diagnose a problem. For heart disease risk, your doctor may look at LDL-P, Apo-B, Lp(a) concentrations, and myeloperoxidease levels, to name a few. Presently, a patient’s creatinine level is measured and is the most widely used test to determine kidney function. Why is a kidney test important, you ask? Medically speaking, even moderate kidney dysfunction increases the risk of a patient having a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event, including death. So measuring Cytastin C is emerging as a method of predicting cardiovascular events and also a decline in the function of one’s kidneys.
While the medical community has been looking at renal function by use of creatinine-based test results for many years, it’s not as accurate as we would like. This has led many physicians and researchers to search for other markers of kidney disease through renal function. Again, this is important because an interruption of renal function is a hallmark sign of early CVD. Because Cytastin C is produced by many cells of the body, it’s a slightly better predictor and discriminator than just looking at creatinine.
Many of you write to tell me that you bring these ideas directly to your doctor. So, I want to give you some information. In 2004, a German researcher, Wolfgang Koenig published a paper in the Journal of Clinical Chemistry evaluating the impact of Cystatin C against other markers, including creatinine on a large amount of patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). Since his paper was published, researchers have been consistently showing that Cystatin C is superior and it’s my professional opinion that it should be part of a checklist of items your doctor looks at to help predict your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. Currently, there is an abundance of new research in progress to better understand the role of Cytastin C in cardiovascular disease prevention and this exciting new topic may add to better ways to prevent death from the number 1 killer of men and women in the United States.