Objective: Among apparently healthy women and men, elevated levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) predict the risk of cardiovascular events and may be useful for detecting subclinical atherosclerosis. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between inflammatory markers, augmentation index (AIx), central pulse pressure and central systolic blood pressure in apparently healthy subjects.
Design and settings: An observational study conducted at a university teaching hospital.
Methods and results: Apparently healthy subjects (n = 158; 75 males, 83 females) passed a complete history and physical examination, blood tests and pulse wave analysis.AIx was significantly higher in patients with hsCRP levels above 1 mg/l (24.5 +/-9.9 versus 18.1+/-12.6%, P < 0.001). Central pulse pressure and central systolic blood pressure were significantly higher in the group with hsCRP levels above 1 mg/l. No differences between groups were shown for peripheral pulse pressure, peripheral blood pressures and estimated aortic pulse wave velocity. In multiple regression analysis, AIx correlated positively with age, female gender, short stature, mean arterial pressure, hsCRP (P = 0.026) and white blood cell count (P = 0.01), and negatively with heart rate.
Conclusions: This study shows that plasma levels of hsCRP are positively correlated with AIx, central pulse pressure and central systolic blood pressure. Apparently healthy subjects with increased inflammatory markers have increased systemic arterial stiffness, which might reflect early atherosclerotic changes. Our results suggest that hsCRP and non-invasively measured arterial stiffness could serve as additional tools, beside conventional cardiovascular risk factors, for assessment of global arterial risk and preclinical atherosclerotic changes in arteries.