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AHA: Skin Sterol Could Predict Heart Disease Risk

Simple, non-invasive test can help identify at-risk individuals

FRIDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- Skin sterol samples taken from the palm of the hand may be a useful tool to detect cardiovascular disease risk, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology Annual Conference held this week in Atlanta.

Dennis L. Sprecher, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a study of 9,055 subjects with a median age of 36 years who were at low risk for cardiovascular disease. They measured the subjects' cholesterol ratios, levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, and sampled their skin sterol distribution.

Subjects in the top quartile for skin sterol distribution were 43 percent more likely to have high total cholesterol and 35 percent more likely to have high levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, relative to those in the bottom quartile. The authors note that other studies have found an association between skin sterol levels and arterial calcification as well as coronary and carotid artery narrowing.

"This simple, non-invasive test may be useful in identifying higher risk individuals who would benefit from further risk factor assessment," the authors conclude.

One co-author disclosed financial ties to PreMD.

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