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C-Reactive Protein – A cause of heart disease or an eye witness to it?

Thursday, July 02, 2009
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C Reactive protein has received a lot of attention in recent years as a laboratory marker for heart disease. A study to be published in the Journal of the Medical Association today however refutes this association as a causal one.

An earlier study showed that lowering high C-Reactive Protein levels through treatment with Statins (a class of medicines used for treating high cholesterol and that also lower C-Reactive Protein) made heart disease patients less prone to heart attacks. This generated the hypothesis that C reactive Protein contributes to heart disease.

This study tried to answer the question regarding causality, using a new method called Mendelian Randomization. This method uses genetic markers and tools to determine relatively quickly whether a particular protein causes a condition or not. Had C-Reactive Protein been a cause of heart disease, then people with genes that produced higher levels of C-Reactive Protein vs. lower levels would have had higher and lower rates of heart disease respectively. This in fact was not the case; there was no such pattern seen in the study population which consisted of nearly 100,000 individuals.

What is the possible role of C-Reactive Protein in heart disease then? It is already known that C-Reactive Protein is a marker for inflammation in the body. It is also known that inflammation is probably the most likely cause of plaque formation in the arteries. Thus heart disease and high C-Reactive Protein levels are both symptoms of increased inflammation.  High C-Reactive Protein could still indicate that a person is at increased risk of developing heart disease without actually being responsible for the increased risk itself.  This finding is important because it shows that developing medicines to lower C-Reactive Protein in heart patients is not the answer to lowering risk of heart disease in them and that the search for answers must still continue

By, The Dietetic Team @



User Comments

20 September, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi | Reply

Vijayalakshmi The CRP test is a general test to check for inflammation in the body. It is not a specific test. That means, it can reveal that you have inflammation somewhere in your body, but it cannot pinpoint the exact location.For those who have a family history or personal history of heart disease you can ask your doctor to conduct a highly sensitive test called hs-CRP to help determine your risk of heart disease.

09 August, 2010 | Geetanjali Kelkar | Reply

Geetanjali Kelkar Angina is the pain in chest or heart region. It indicates that heart is not getting adequate oxygenated blood. The National Heart and Blood Institute has given certain factors that trigger angina pain

1. Coronory Heart disease
2. A Blood Clot
3. Extremely hot or cold weather
4. emotional stress
5. smoking or cocaine
6. Medications that narrow blood vessels
7. Insufficient blood flow to the small arteries to small arteries
Know more

03 July, 2009 | Deepika Kohli, Dietitian, | Reply

Deepika Kohli, Dietitian, To better understand the CRP and CVD relationship, one needs to look at the basics. Inflammation is the process by which the body responds to injury or an infection. While, CRP is an acute phase proteins that increases during systemic inflammation. According to researchers,testing CRP levels in the blood would be an added way to assess CVD risk. CRP levels in blood indicate the presence of arterial inflammation.

On the other hand, Statins that have been in use for a considerable period of time, and are known to reduce LDL cholesterol, also have a significant effect on reducing arterial inflammation.

02 July, 2009 | Kanchan Saggi | Reply

Kanchan Saggi I completely agree with the discussion that CRP is no longer the cause for heart disease. As rightly pointed that CRP is just a marker of inflammation, it may be merely associated with heart disease, The causes for Inflammation could be elusive... as simple as an Infection, Allergy, and Asthma to chronic degenerative diseases like Arthritis, Diabetes, CVD and Cancer. So the rice in the CRP cannot be pointed as the indisputable indicator of heart disease, where as on the other hand we could as well highlight the importance of Homocysteine as the actual indicator of heart disease.
I would also like to mention that Statins are drugs that lower the Cholesterol & Triglyceride levels in people having elevated lipid levels BUT they don’t lower the CRP levels in the body and hence it necessarily doesn’t mean that a person is likely or unlikely to be associated with heart disease with high or low CRP levels respectively.

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