The concept of the cardiovascular continuum, introduced during the early 1990s, created a holistic view of the chain of events connecting cardiovascular-related risk factors with the progressive development of pathological-related tissue remodelling and ultimately, heart failure and death. Understanding of the tissue-specific changes, and new technologies developed over the last 25–30 years, enabled tissue remodelling events to be monitored in vivo and cardiovascular disease to be diagnosed more reliably than before. The tangible product of this evolution was the introduction of a number of biochemical markers such as troponin I and T, which are now commonly used in clinics to measure myocardial damage. However, biomarkers that can detect specific earlier stages of the cardiovascular continuum have yet to be generated and utilised. The majority of the existing markers are useful only in the end stages of the disease where few successful intervention options exist. Since a large number of patients experience a transient underlying developing pathology long before the signs or symptoms of cardiovascular disease become apparent, the requirement for new markers that can describe the early tissue-specific, matrix remodelling process which ultimately leads to disease is evident. This review highlights the importance of relating cardiac biochemical markers with specific time points along the cardiovascular continuum, especially during the early transient phase of pathology progression where none of the existing markers aid diagnosis.
Keywords: biomarkers, cardiovascular disease, extracellular matrix remodeling, ECMr, diagnostic markers, cardiovascular continuum, biomarker continuum, cardiac matrikine