FRIDAY, Sept. 17, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A protein in the bloodstream that indicates inflammation also could serve as an early warning signal for blood vessel blockages, Mayo Clinic researchers say.
Their study found that patients with partial blockages in the aorta also had high levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, also known as hs-CRP. The aorta is the largest artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to all parts of the body.
Such blockages can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
"We have known for some time that hs-CRP levels are elevated among patients with chest pain or other heart-related symptoms," said lead researcher Dr. Bijoy Khandheria. "This new study tells us high CRP is a sign that plaques likely are being formed in the arteries, even if the person feels healthy."
Doctors should take a closer look at patients who have elevated hs-CRP readings, Khandheria suggested.
The American Heart Association has more about blood vessel blockages.