Plasma concentration of cross-linked fibrin degradation product (D-dimer) and the risk of future myocardial infarction among apparently healthy men.
BACKGROUND Plasma levels of D-dimer, the primary degradation product of cross-linked fibrin, are elevated in several acute thrombotic disorders. However, whether elevated D-dimer levels among healthy individuals are associated with future coronary thrombosis is unknown.
METHODS AND RESULTS To evaluate whether levels of D-dimer are associated with the occurrence of future myocardial infarction (MI) among apparently healthy men, levels were measured in plasma samples collected at baseline from 296 participants in the Physicians' Health Study who later developed a first MI and from an equal number of age- and smoking status-matched control subjects who remained free of vascular disease during a mean follow-up period of 60.2 months. In univariate analyses, baseline plasma concentrations of D-dimer in the upper ranges of normal were associated with elevated risks of MI. Specifically, the relative risk of future MI for individuals with baseline D-dimer concentration exceeding the 95th percentile of the control distribution was two times higher than that of individuals with lower levels (relative risk [RR], 2.02; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04 to 4.02; P = .04). This association persisted in multivariate analyses controlling for nonlipid cardiovascular risk factors (RR, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.05 to 4.28; P = .04) and for lipoprotein(a) (RR, 2.02; 95% CI, 1.04 to 3.94; P = .03). In contrast, this association was attenuated and no longer statistically significant in analyses that controlled for total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (RR, 1.74; 95% CI, 0.78 to 3.91; P = .2) or for endogenous tissue-type plasminogen activator and its primary inhibitor, plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (RR, 1.58; 95% CI, 0.67 to 3.77; P = .3).
CONCLUSIONS Elevated levels of D-dimer are associated with increased risks of future MI, although they do not appear to be an independent predictor when other risk factors are considered. As the presence of D-dimer in plasma reflects ongoing fibrin degradation, these data support the hypothesis that activation of the endogenous fibrinolytic system occurs many years in advance of coronary arterial occlusion.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association