CRP, an emerging marker of CHD risk, is a nonspecific acute-phase reactant protein for which the concentration in serum becomes increased in response to inflammatory stimuli. Studies show that CRP is notjust a marker of inflammation; it also acts as a mediator that amplifies the inflammatory cascade. High values are noted in early bacterial infections, active rheumatoid disease, Crohn's disease, acute myocardial infarction, and following trauma. In patients with ischemic chest pain, elevated CRP is associated with a negative prognosis upon hospital admission. In seemingly healthy individuals, elevated CRP indicates an increased risk of atherosclerotic disease and reflects a chronic nonspecific inflammatory process in the body, which in turn confers an increased risk of the cardiovascular events. An elevated CRP level is normally treated with aspirin prophylaxis and hyperlipidemia medications, or "statins." While obesity is, itself, a well-known risk factor for CHD, lowering CRP via lowering body fat will decrease CRP and CHD. In particular, high-sensitivity hsCRP is considered to be a promising marker for CHD and is interrelated with obesity and other risk factors, such as age, tobacco use, blood pressure, and dyslipidemia.48 One of the most common causes of an elevated CRP has been shown to be periodontal disease.
This being said, complementary and alternative practitioners view CRP as yet another risk factor for CVD in patients who do not manifest the other pathologies that cause elevated CRP. The strong association between elevated CRP and cardiovascular disease supports the concept that cardiovascular disease is not simply a lipid-accumulation disease, but an inflammatory disorder involving the endothelium and hypercoagulability. Consequently, the most effective strategies for preventing cardiovascular disease are those that reduce systemic inflammation, and CRP then becomes a benchmark for the efficacy of those strategies. Because current medical opinion does not place CRP decidedly as a definitive cause of CVD, this marker can only be looked upon as a potential warning sign for future disease. Recent research has elucidated, however, the importance of CRP and risk of recurrent myocardial infarction or death from coronary causes. The study concluded that individuals who had lower CRP levels after therapy had better clinical outcomes than those with higher CRP levels, regardless of the resultant level of LDL cholesterol.49 Additional studies show that CRP is a significant risk factor for the progression of atherosclerosis in patients with coronary artery disease.50
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