Inflammatory markers and coronary heart disease


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Abstract

Purpose of reviewDespite changes in lifestyle and the use of effective pharmacologic interventions to lower cholesterol levels, coronary heart disease remains the major cause of morbidity and mortality in the developed world. Cholesterol screening fails to identify almost 50% of those individuals who will present with acute coronary syndromes. Recent evidence from laboratory and prospective clinical studies demonstrates that atherosclerosis is not simply a disease of lipid deposition, but rather is an inflammatory process with highly specific cellular and molecular responses. The clinical utility of inflammatory markers has been examined in a variety of atherothrombotic diseases. Because C-reactive protein is highly stable in stored frozen samples, and automated and robust analytical systems for its measurement are available, it has become the most widely examined inflammatory marker.Recent findingsC-reactive protein has consistently been shown to be a useful prognostic indicator in acute coronary syndromes and is a strong predictor of future coronary events in apparently healthy individuals. In addition, C-reactive protein can identify individuals with normal lipid levels who are at increased risk for future coronary events. Because drugs such as aspirin and statins reduce inflammatory risk, C-reactive protein has the potential to guide the use of these therapies in high-risk individuals for primary prevention.SummaryC-reactive protein may have a role in global risk assessment for primary prevention and in targeting those patients who will benefit from anti-inflammatory therapies. In addition, it may also be a good prognostic indicator in patients with acute coronary syndromes.

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