Resistin: The Best Test for Heart Disease

homer heart attack

One of my clients was at the doctor last week for a check-up.

He has been stressed out a lot lately and experiencing some headaches.

The doctor checked him out and found that his blood pressure was running higher than normal.

As a result, she sent him on his way with a requisition for a bunch of blood tests.

Pretty standard stuff:

  • Glucose
  • TSH
  • Creatinine
  • Sodium
  • CBC
  • Potassium
  • etc, etc, etc…

At this point, the doctor thinks that the blood pressure is caused by his stress levels, but she just wants to keep on top of things.

But what if things aren’t okay?

Will these tests alert the doctor in time?

Maybe they should be checking his levels of Resistin.


Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have found that blood levels of resistin, a hormone produced by fat cells, can independently predict an individual’s risk of heart failure.

“This is one of the strongest predictors of new-onset heart failure we’ve been able to find, and it holds up even when you control for other biomarkers and risk factors including high blood pressure and diabetes,” says Javed Butler, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine and director of heart failure research at Emory University School of Medicine.

Although scientists don’t know the exact function of resistin, it appears to be associated with both inflammation and insulin resistance.

“Recent laboratory studies have also shown that resistin decreases the ability of rats’ heart muscles to contract,” she adds.

That doesn’t sound good.

In the Health ABC study, the risk of new onset heart failure increased by 38 percent for every 10 nanograms per milliliter increase in resistin levels in blood.

Resistin was a stronger predictor of heart failure risk than other inflammatory markers linked to heart disease, such as C-reactive protein.

“Considering the increasing number of people who are obese or have diabetes, very many of them are going to be at some level of risk for heart failure later in life.

The value of a marker such as resistin may be in accurately identifying among this large population of at-risk individuals who is at the highest risk and then targeting interventions to those people.”

Now, I am sure that my client is going to be okay.

But we are not taking any chances. No matter what the blood tests tell us, he has decided to treat this as a wake up call.

In addition to his healthy eating and thorough fitness program, he is making some lifestyle changes and is about to start a mindfulness meditation program to address his rising levels of stress.

Better safe than sorry.

Too bad he can’t get his resistin levels checked.

Oh well, that’s socialized Canadian medicine for you.


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  1. DR:
    Is this not jumping the gun, or killing an ant with a cannon shot (please excuse the tortured metaphors)? After all, the guy just has a headache and hypertension– a far cry from impending heart failure!

  2. Thats so funny. I never even heard the words ‘socialised medicine’ until I went to the United States. Surly you can see the benefits of this, as well as the long waiting lists? Or are you anti it? I live in NZ where its all free and I prefer it compared to the american system. But I don’t know much about it. Although, my flatmate, who is a medical doctor seems to think we should be like america because otherwise you get people going to hospitals with colds.

  3. I guess I should explain myself.

    The impetus for this article is a situation that a friend of mine finds himself in.

    His wife is sick.

    His wife has been waiting a long time to see a specialist. She needs to see the specialist before she can get certain tests to determine the state of her illness. (due to health care regulations in my province – Ontario)

    (Sorry for being vague, but I have to respect their privacy)

    They called the centre where the tests are performed…and found out that there are slots available for the test IMMEDIATELY. However, she needs the referral from the specialist.

    No getting around this – thems the rules

    So, what do they do???


    That is what Canada’s health care system expects…we trade off immediate medical attention for the security of tax payer funded health care.

    Go outside of the country and pay for the tests?

    That’s a possibility

    or, she can do something that is not supposed to be possible. She can jump the queue and get her test done here in Ontario.

    This is what they are doing.

    Her husband is arranging the tests to be performed through an arrangement between his company (incorporated) and a 3rd party health services company.

    The tests will be performed at the same facility used by the public system. (The results will be sent to her GP and the specialist)

    She won’t have to wait and worry for months and months.

    The cost? $2000 (approx)

    So, when I saw this story about the resistin test, it struck a nerve.

    I realize that this test is VERY new, but to me, it reinforces my belief that there has to be a better way of balancing the stability of public health care and providing the BEST health care possible.

    And I certainly wouldn’t use the U.S. as a role model. Instead of a system controlled by the gov’t, they have a system where the gov’t has given control to the insurance companies.

    Americans are dreaming if they think their health care system is a free market.

    Both systems are not driven by consumer needs. They are driven by gov’t and/or insurance company needs.

    Rambodoc: I agree that the resistin test may be completely unnecessary, but if a patient wants the test and is willing to pay for it, why can’t he/she get the test? I can get an MRI for my cat in a couple of days, but not for myself.

    Dr. Parker: The test isn’t available except in a research setting. But imagine if you could offer this test to your clients as a method of prevention. We test for cholesterol and high blood pressure, why not resistin or CRP?

    By the way, I love the fact that 3 doctors commented on this post. I appreciate that you guys bring a completely different point of view to the discussion.

    As a consumer of health care, I want every possible test and I want it NOW!!!

    Your experience gives you perspective on a medical situation that I will never have.

    Thanks for the comments and questions.

Comments are closed.