Evolution of C-Reactive Protein as a Cardiac Risk Factor

Paula J. D'Amore, PhD, D(ABMLI)


Lab Med. 2005;36(4):234-238. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


  • During recent years, the importance of C-reactive protein (CRP) and its measurement in the laboratory has dramatically changed.

  • Renewed interest in CRP emerged when it was reported that deaths arising from heart disease declined, yet up to one half of all myocardial infarctions occur in healthy men and women with normal plasma lipids.

  • The purpose of this article is to review the role of chronic, low-grade inflammation in atherosclerosis and its association with CVD, the metabolic syndrome, and Type 2 diabetes. The common antecedents between inflammation with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes will also be discussed.


Hyperlipidemia, smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure were identified as traditional risk factors of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The public was encouraged to make important life style changes such as incorporating a low-fat diet and increasing the amount of exercise into their daily routine in order to reduce lipid levels and the risk of heart attacks. However, CVD remains the number 1 cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and other western industralized countries.[1] The American Heart Association (AHA) has stated that the cost of cardiovascular diseases and strokes in the United States in 2003 was estimated to be 351 billion dollars.[2] Clearly, a more aggressive approach is needed to discover additional predictors of risk and incorporate them into the traditional risk assessment of cardiovascular diseases. In addition, the number of cases of type 2 diabetes mellitus is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States and around the world. By 2050, the prevalence is expected to increase by more than 165% just in the United States.[3] It is projected that approximately 135 billion dollars is spent on health care in this country for this disease.[4] New strategies for risk assessment of type 2 diabetes are desperately needed. Now, more than ever, emphasis is being placed upon the evaluation of those people at high risk for type 2 diabetes. In the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III report, it was suggested that the metabolic syndrome, which is a clustering of major risk factors such as atherogenic dyslipidemia, abdominal obesity, hypertension, and an impaired fasting glucose, may be important predictors of risk for CVD and type 2 diabetes.[5]


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