Public Release: 

Mayo Clinic researchers measuring C-reactive protein is early indicator of stiffened arteries

May help identify heart disease in patients who have no symptoms

Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic research report appears online and in the August issue of the American Journal of Hypertension, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/08957061. The Mayo Clinic collaborative study with researchers from the University of Michigan looked at 214 men and women with an average age of 59, who had no history of heart attack or stroke. Results suggest that low grade inflammation is associated with arterial stiffness (hardening). This inflammation may be a potential mechanism through which C-reactive protein is related to heart attack and stroke, and why testing for C-reactive protein in a blood test may be an effective early warning test for asymptomatic, or presymptomatic heart disease.

Significance of Mayo Clinic Research

Researchers around the world agree that C-reactive protein is associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. But it remains controversial whether C-reactive protein is a risk factor that affects the function of blood vessels, or if it is simply a marker signifying the presence of disease.

In addition to taking into account the traditional risk factors for heart disease--such as male sex, presence of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking--the research team also measured C-reactive protein levels as well as three indicators of arterial stiffness. Stiffening of arteries indicates a loss of their elastic properties and predisposes to heart attack, stroke and congestive heart failure.

Says lead Mayo Clinic researcher Iftikhar Kullo, M.D., "The current inability to accurately predict cardiovascular events such as heart attack is a problem, and anything we can do to improve risk assessment is a public health priority. Our study provides a new insight into how low grade inflammation could be related to heart and stroke by its association with arterial stiffness. Thus suppression of inflammation may be a target of drug therapy to improve arterial health."

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Collaboration and Support

In addition to Dr. Kullo, the Mayo Clinic research team included: James Seward, M.D.; Kent Bailey, Ph.D.; Brandon Grossardt, M.Sc.; Patrick Sheedy, M.D.; Stephen Turner, M.D. and from the University of Michigan, Lawrence Beilak, D.D.S., M.P.H., and Patricia Peyser, Ph.D. Their work was supported by grants from the National Center for Research Resources and the National Institutes of Health.

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