Inflammation

August 15, 2011

Much effort has been expended toward finding a possible infectious cause for the coronary artery disease. While there are no convincing data linking any specific microbe to an elevated risk of coronary artery disease, it is widely accepted that inflammation plays an important role in the atherosclerotic process. For this reason, blood levels of markers that rise in the presence of inflammation have been studied looking for a correlation to coronary artery disease. Elevated levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), a naturally occurring protein in the body, can predict the risk for future heart attack as well as outcomes in those with varying extents of coronary artery disease. hs-CRP appears to be a more important and predictive risk factor in women than men. However, the mechanism by which hs-CRP confers a higher risk is not fully understood. It is possible that this protein serves simply as a marker of the presence and extent of atherosclerosis instead of playing a causative role. Some of the same medications used in the treatment of elevated cholesterol levels also reduce levels of hs-CRP. These include the statin drugs pravastatin, simvastatin, and atorvastatin as well as ciprofibrate, which belongs to the fibrate class of cholesterol-lowering medication.

SEE ALSO: Acute myocardial infarction, Cardiovascular disease, Cholesterol, Diabetes, Exercise, Hormone replacement therapy, Hypertension, Nutrition, Smoking

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Category: Coronary Risk Factor