Overview of hemostatic factors involved in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease

Lipids. 2005 Dec;40(12):1215-20. doi: 10.1007/s11745-005-1488-8.


Hemostatic factors associated with the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) include fibrinogen, von Willebrand factor, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) antigen, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), and factor VII. Each SD increment of these increases the association by 24-30%. Most hemostatic factors are intercorrelated with inflammatory markers [e.g., C-reactive protein (CRP)] and LDL cholesterol. Fibrinogen seems the most fundamental hemostatic risk factor for CVD. The Framingham Study reaffirms the significant linear risk factor trends across fibrinogen tertiles (P< 0.001) for age, body mass index, smoking, diabetes mellitus, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and TG in both sexes. Fibrinogen may also directly increase CVD risk because of its role in platelet aggregation, plasma viscosity, and fibrin formation. Fibrinogen is also an acute-phase reactant that is elevated in inflammatory states. Fibrinogen mediates the thrombogenic effect of other risk factors. Fibrinogen levels increase with the number of cigarettes smoked and quickly fall after smoking cessation. This rapid fibrinogen decline may be a mechanism for CVD risk reduction after smoking cessation. Weight loss is accompanied by reduced fibrinogen. The correlation between fibrinogen and LDL cholesterol suggests that lipid-imposed CVD risk is mediated partly through fibrinogen. Hyperreactive platelets of diabetics may result in part from their increased fibrinogen. Elevated fibrinogen and CRP of unstable angina suggest an acute-phase reaction. Prevalence, case-control, angiographic, and echocardiogram investigations incriminate hemostatic and inflammatory markers as strong independent risk factors for initial and recurrent CVD. Framingham Study data indicate that each SD increase in fibrinogen imposes a 20% independent increment in risk. It may be concluded that fibrinogen and CRP determination may be useful screening tools to identify individuals at added risk for thrombotic complications of CVD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology*
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Female
  • Fibrinogen / metabolism
  • Fibrinolysis
  • Hemostasis / physiology*
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Male
  • Risk Factors


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Homocysteine
  • Fibrinogen
  • C-Reactive Protein