Inflammation and atherosclerosis: the value of the high-sensitivity C-reactive protein assay as a risk marker

Am J Clin Pathol. 2001 Dec;116 Suppl:S108-15. doi: 10.1309/J63V-5LTH-WYFC-VDR5.


C-reactive protein (CRP) is a prototypic marker of inflammation. Numerous prospective studies in healthy volunteers have confirmed that high-sensitivity CRP (hsCRP) predicts cardiovascular events (CVEs), and hsCRP seems additive to an elevated total cholesterol level and a total/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio in men and women in predicting risk. In smokers and people with metabolic syndrome, hsCRP levels are elevated; in elderly people, there seems to be a relationship between hsCRP and CVEs and mortality. Several properties of CRP make it proatherogenic; however; pending further studies, it should be considered as a risk marker. In people with acute coronary syndromes, hsCRP measurement may be valuable. Elevated levels in the highest quantile seem to predict greater mortality and poorer prognosis in patients with unstable angina and myocardial infarction (MI). While hsCRP is a strong independent predictor of risk of future MI, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and vascular death, the validity of hsCRP as a risk marker needs to be assessed in all populations. Weight loss, statin drugs, aspirin, and high-dose alpha tocopherol therapy could affect hsCRP. It has its greatest validity as an adjunctive measure in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteriosclerosis / blood*
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Smoking / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Cholesterol