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Plasma concentration of endogenous tissue plasminogen activator and the occurrence of future cardiovascular events

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Data from recent prospective studies of hemostasis and thrombosis indicate that the plasma concentration of endogenous tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) is often elevated years in advance of a first arterial occlusion. Specifically, among healthy subjects with no prior cardiovascular disease, the risk of future myocardial infarction and stroke appears to be three to four times higher among subjects with high baseline levels of tPA antigen as compared to subjects with lower levels. Whether this relationship represents activation of the endogenous fibrinolytic system in response to the presence of preclinical atherosclerosis or is a reflection of elevated concentrations of local plasminogen activator inhibitors is currently unresolved. However, cross-sectional data indicate that the plasma concentration of tPA antigen is related to several traditional atherosclerotic risk factors, including HDL cholesterol, findings that further support a direct relationship between endogenous tPA and vascular risk. In concert with data concerning the primary inhibitors of plasminogen activation, it has been hypothesized that the endogenous fibrinolytic system varies within the general population such that certain individuals are prone to thrombosis, whereas others may be prone to hemorrhage. Thus, observations regarding fibrinolytic activation and inhibition raise the possibility that assessment of the intrinsic fibrinolytic system may prove useful in identifying individuals at increased risk for vascular thrombosis. In addition, available findings suggest that therapeutic agents capable of favorably shifting the net fibrinolytic balance may provide a new strategy for cardiovascular disease prevention.

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Correspondence to Paul M. Ridker.

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Ridker, P.M. Plasma concentration of endogenous tissue plasminogen activator and the occurrence of future cardiovascular events. J Thromb Thrombol 1, 35–40 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01061993

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Key words

  • tissue plasminogen activator
  • fibrinolysis
  • thrombosis
  • myocardial infarction
  • epidemiology
  • prevention