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These blood markers may indicate a higher risk of disease and death

Updated: May 9

A new study suggests that some readings from routine blood tests could help identify people at higher risk of disease and death related to disease. Doctors currently use the readings as markers of immune condition and inflammation.




Using markers from routine blood work


“Scientists have gone to great lengths and expense to develop novel biomarkers to identify people at the highest risk for death and disease,”


In their study paper, Doctors remark on the increasing availability of drugs that target the immune system to treat established disease. These treatments seek to either reduce or boost immune activity, depending on the underlying relationship to disease.


However, they urge that there is also a great and unmet need for tools and methods to help prevent immune-related diseases in the general population in the first place.


Low lymphocyte count


Around 20–40%Trusted Source of white blood cells are lymphocytes. A shortage of lymphocytes leaves the body susceptible to infection.


While scientists have recognized that a low lymphocyte count is a strong risk factor for premature death in people with a particular heart valve condition, there has been little research on its value as a more general predictor of survival.


In the new study, the researchers wished to discover whether lymphocyte counts could be an effective way to assess the risk of disease and disease-related death in a nationally representative adult population.


They performed the analysis with lymphocyte count on its own, then together with two other markers.

The two additional markers were red blood cell distribution width (RDW) and C-reactive protein (CRP).

RDW is a measure of how well the body can produce and maintain a healthy supply of red blood cells. CRP is a marker of inflammation.


The analysis linked low lymphocyte count with reduced survival both on its own and in conjunction with other blood markers, especially RDW and CRP.



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