Simple Blood Test Could Save Lives

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NBC Nightly News
Brian Williams/Nancy Snyderman
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Video News Report
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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A simple blood test that checks the level of inflammation within the body could help detect heart disease.



"Simple Blood Test Could Save Lives ." Nancy Snyderman, correspondent. NBC Nightly News. NBCUniversal Media. 17 Aug. 2011. NBC Learn. Web. 8 September 2018.


Snyderman, N. (Reporter), & Williams, B. (Anchor). (2011, August 17). Simple Blood Test Could Save Lives . [Television series episode]. NBC Nightly News. Retrieved from


"Simple Blood Test Could Save Lives " NBC Nightly News, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 08/17/2011. Accessed Sat Sep 8 2018 from NBC Learn:


Simple Blood Test Could Save Lives


Before we get to an important piece of women’s health news, specifically, first, some numbers that deserve our attention and can’t be repeated often enough. Two out of three women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms, which is all the more reason that women may want to ask their doctors about a blood test that can be a live saver. Our Chief Medical Editor, Doctor Nancy Snyderman is here with us tonight to explain this. Nancy.

Doctor NANCY SNYDERMAN, reporting:

Brian, this is not a new test, it’s not an experimental test, but nonetheless it’s a test that not a lot of people know about, and that’s a problem because this simple blood test could save your life.

Unidentified Receptionist: Hello

ANN DAMRON HEINZ: Hi, sweetie.

SNYDERMAN: Today in Atlanta, Ann Damron Heinz, is checking in with her cardiologist. She’s taking charge after her husband suffered a heart attack in June, making sure she won’t be next.

DAMRON HEINZ: I don’t want to be left in the dark. I mean, I’ve been in the dark, so now it’s time to come out of the dark.

Unidentified Doctor: I’m going to check it in both arms.

SNYDERMAN: In addition to having her blood pressure and cholesterol checked, she’s also getting a blood test for C-Reactive Protein, a marker for inflammation and heart disease. As a diabetic who struggles with her weight, Ann knows she’s at high risk for a heart attack.

Doctor GINA LUNDBERG (St. Joseph’s Hospital): There are all traditional risk factors for heart disease.

SNYDERMAN: But cardiologist, Doctor Gina Lundberg, says that many women who’s doctors tell them they’re at low risk, may not be.

LUNDBERG: All too often we see people who’ve been told they were low risk for heart disease, but they’re in the emergency room having a heart attack, so they’re clearly not low risk.

SNYDERMAN: That’s because most doctors don’t regularly check for C-Reactive Protein, for fear of over treating people.

Doctor PAUL RIDKER (Brigham and Women’s Hospital): Great, blood pressure is good today.

SNYDERMAN: Doctor Paul Ridker is an expert on C-Reactive proteins and statins, the commonly used drugs that lower cholesterol.

RIDKER: We’ve learned that the cost of the screening and the cost of the medication is quite small compared to the number of events prevented. So it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

SNYDERMAN: At risk people can take aspirin and statins to ward off a heart attack.

Unidentified Doctor: Your HDL is a little bit low.

SNYDERMAN: Ann is already on those medications, and knows that they are only part of the solution. A good diet and exercise are crucial.

DAMRON HEINZ: Because of the incident that my husband had in June, I wanted to be worked up for everything. Going through that kind of traumatic event, I don’t want the family to have to go through that again.

SNYDERMAN: Everyone seems to know about heart disease in men, but doctors still under recognize the risk of heart disease in women. So this is a reminder. Know your family history, your cholesterol, your blood pressure, and if you’re over the age of 40, this is the time to have the conversation with your doctor about this very simple blood test, that is reimbursable by most insurance plans.

WILLIIAMS: So, C-Reactive Protein is what to ask for?

SNYDERMAN: Yes, C-Reactive Protein, CRP.