This week in BMC Medicine: Statins, personalized medicine and biomarkers for cardiovascular diseases.

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Cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins are the first line of treatment for hypercholesterolemia in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases but their side effects are associated with depression. Current research approaches aim to determine genetic variants, biomarkers and prediction models for improved management and individualized treatment of patients with cardiac conditions. These topics are highlighted in some recently published articles in BMC Medicine that we discuss below.

Issues of the heart and mind are covered by a systematic review and meta-analysis where Michael Berk and colleagues conclude that statins may have mood-related benefits, which refutes previous evidence of adverse psychological side effects caused by statin therapy.

Steven Lubitz and Patrick Ellinor review recent progress in understanding the genetics of atrial fibrillation, and discuss how genetic information can be applied in the clinic, leading to a personalized approach to prediction risk and pharmacological  treatment. This article is the latest addition to our article collection on personalized medicine: genes, biomarkers and tailored treatment.

Research by William A LaFramboise and colleagues on serum protein biomarkers shows that some biomarkers can discriminate between patients without significant coronary artery disease from those with the disease and requiring angiography. These data highlight that if the biomarkers are used in a clinical setting a reduced number of patients will be exposed to ionization, which will also lower healthcare costs.

Research into predicting mortality and cardiovascular events is also a topic that has been of much interest in recent years, and a study by Bob JH van Kempen and colleagues on the Rotterdam Ischemic Heart and Disease and Stroke Computer Simulation (RISC) model shows that these events can be reliably predicted during a period of 5 years and through an extended follow-up of 13 years. The model additionally is validated externally in a different cohort of patients.

Together, the latest evidence provides hope that patients with cardiovascular diseases can be selected and treated based on their genetic makeup, serum protein and risk-factor profiles to provide a more personalized approach to their therapy and care.