Background: Understanding the distribution of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) and its relations with classic cardiovascular risk factors in specific populations is important for further diagnostic use.
Methods: We studied 1,157 adult subjects (652 women and 505 men) participating in the Health Study of Catalonia. CRP concentrations were measured with a high-sensitivity turbidimetric assay.
Results: Median levels of CRP were 1.57 mg/l and 25% of both men and women had CRP values >3 mg/l. No differences were observed between men and women even after adjustment for age and body mass index (BMI). After patients with CRP values above the 97.5th percentile (n = 31) had been excluded, CRP concentrations increased significantly with increasing levels of cardiovascular risk factors in both men and women. Men and women with metabolic syndrome showed significantly higher levels of CRP than their counterparts, even after adjustment for BMI and age. In a multiple regression analysis, BMI, triglycerides and fasting glucose were independent predictors of CRP in women and together explained 42% of its variance. In men, CRP was independently and positively associated to waist circumference, smoking, diastolic blood pressure, uric acid and triglycerides, and negatively associated to HDL-cholesterol. Altogether these variables explained 51% of its variability.
Conclusions: The present study describes, for the first time, CRP concentrations in a sample that is representative of a Spanish Mediterranean community. CRP distribution and correlates are very similar to those reported previously in spite of the different lifestyle and nutritional habits, and the lower rates of cardiovascular diseases in our population.