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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This review discusses the recent evidence for a selection of blood-based emerging risk factors, with particular reference to their relation with coronary heart disease and stroke. RECENT FINDINGS: For lipid-related emerging risk factors, recent findings indicate that increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol is unlikely to reduce cardiovascular risk, whereas reducing triglyceride-rich lipoproteins and lipoprotein(a) may be beneficial. For inflammatory and hemostatic biomarkers, genetic studies suggest that IL-6 (a pro-inflammatory cytokine) and several coagulation factors are causal for cardiovascular disease, but such studies do not support a causal role for C-reactive protein and fibrinogen. Patients with chronic kidney disease are at high cardiovascular risk with some of this risk not mediated by blood pressure. Randomized evidence (trials or Mendelian) suggests homocysteine and uric acid are unlikely to be key causal mediators of chronic kidney disease-associated risk and sufficiently large trials of interventions which modify mineral bone disease biomarkers are unavailable. Despite not being causally related to cardiovascular disease, there is some evidence that cardiac biomarkers (e.g. troponin) may usefully improve cardiovascular risk scores. Many blood-based factors are strongly associated with cardiovascular risk. Evidence is accumulating, mainly from genetic studies and clinical trials, on which of these associations are causal. Non-causal risk factors may still have value, however, when added to cardiovascular risk scores. Although much of the burden of vascular disease can be explained by 'classic' risk factors (e.g. smoking and blood pressure), studies of blood-based emerging factors have contributed importantly to our understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms of vascular disease, and new targets for potential therapies have been identified.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Atheroscler Rep

Publication Date





Atherosclerosis, Coronary heart disease, Epidemiology, Risk factors, Stroke, Vascular disease, Biomarkers, Blood Coagulation Factors, C-Reactive Protein, Cardiovascular Diseases, Cytokines, Humans, Interleukin-6, Leukocyte Count, Lipids, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Renal Insufficiency, Chronic, Risk Assessment, Risk Factors