In the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, the study of biomarkers to identify at-risk individuals is an expanding field. Several developments have fueled this trend, including improved understanding of the pathophysiological processes underlying atherosclerosis, advances in imaging technology to enable the quantification of subclinical disease burden, and the identification of new genetic susceptibility variants for cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, the advent of high-throughput platforms for molecular profiling has increased the pace of biomarker discovery. The rising interest in biomarkers has been balanced by the recognition that standardized and rigorous statistical approaches are needed to evaluate the clinical utility of candidate risk markers. This article reviews the issues surrounding the evaluation of biomarkers, evidence from studies of existing biomarkers, and recent applications of biomarker discovery platforms.
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