The Latest on CRP - The Facts!
A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine (v 352, p 20, 2005) presents results of a study that looks at the connection between LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) lowering, C-Reactive Protein level (CRP - a protein that is found in the blood, and at high levels, indicates inflamation), and subsequent risk of heart attack (myocardial infarction) or death from heart disease. Following the exaggerated description in many newspapers and network news bulletins, many people are rushing to get their CRP level measured. Let's get the facts straight!
The NEJM article deals with people who have already have "acute coronary syndromes", not people who are symptomless (regardless of risk).
The patients in the NEJM study all took large doses of statins, standard treatment for patients who have undergone heart attacks or other serious heart and cardiovascular problems
Consequently, the conclusions of this study are not relevant to the population at large, who have no symptoms.
As expected, the statins used in the study decrease LDL cholesterol, and the CRP level. The study finds that the patients who achieve the lowest LDL level and the lowest CRP level have a recurrence rate that is lower by about 25% compared to patients who either have low LDL and higher CRP, or higher LDL and lower CRP. No error is provided in the paper, but we estimate the Margin of Error to be approximately between 18% and 32%. We note that there is no known way to further reduce CRP by medication even if it is determined to be desirable. And again, this study does not have any obvious relevance to healthy asymptomatic people.
Details about the relevance of CRP and other risk factors to healthy people are presented in our CHD risk study.