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CRP Levels Linked to Heart Disease, but Causality Unlikely

Most links between C-reactive protein, heart disease attributed to known risk factors

TUESDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- C-reactive protein (CRP) blood concentration is associated with risk of a range of diseases, including heart attack, stroke, cancer death and chronic lung disease, but most of the associations between CRP levels and heart disease are explained by risk factors already known to cause heart disease, according to a study published online Dec. 22 in The Lancet.

Stephen Kaptoge, Ph.D., of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues from the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration performed a meta-analysis of medical records from 160,309 people without a history of vascular disease.

The researchers found that the risk ratios per one standard deviation higher log CRP concentration (three-fold higher) were 1.63 for coronary heart disease when adjusted for age and sex only and 1.37 when adjusted for further risk factors; 1.44 and 1.27 for ischemic stroke; 1.71 and 1.55 for vascular mortality; and 1.55 and 1.54 for nonvascular mortality.

"CRP concentration has continuous associations with the risk of coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, vascular mortality, and death from several cancers and lung disease that are each of broadly similar size. The relevance of CRP to such a range of disorders is unclear," the authors write. "Associations with ischemic vascular disease depend considerably on conventional risk factors and other markers of inflammation."

The study was funded in part by GlaxoSmithKline.

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