Systemic inflammation as a cardiovascular disease risk factor and as a potential target for drug therapy

Heart Dis. 2001 Sep-Oct;3(5):326-32. doi: 10.1097/00132580-200109000-00009.


Inflammation-related processes play a key role the current etiologic model of atherosclerosis and its acute complications. Recent evidence suggests that blood-based biomarkers that reflect systemic inflammation may contribute to our ability to predict future risk of cardiovascular disease. Global markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein and fibrinogen, have been well studied as potential cardiovascular risk factors. A variety of additional markers that reflect various elements of the complex systems governing inflammation, including proinflammatory and antiinflammatory cytokines, mediators of cellular adhesion, and matrix degradation enzymes, are also worthy of study. Although many previous studies have examined the relation of inflammation to myocardial infarction, emerging evidence suggests that other cardiovascular phenotypes such as ischemic stroke and early-stage atherosclerosis may also be related to inflammation. Further elucidating the role of inflammation in cardiovascular disease may lead to the identification of new targets for preventive or therapeutic interventions. In addition, markers of inflammation may be useful as a means to predict or monitor an individual's response to currently available cardiovascular therapies, such as aspirin or HMG coenzyme A reductase inhibitors, that may act via antiinflammatory mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • C-Reactive Protein