Background: The clinical relevance of very highly increased high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) concentrations (>10 mg/L) is incompletely understood. We examined the association between very highly increased hsCRP and risk of incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) events and all-cause mortality.
Methods: We recruited 5248 participants free from overt CVD and acute infection [mean age 53.5 (SD 12.4) years, 55.5% women] from the Scottish Health Survey, a representative sample of community-dwelling adults. hsCRP and other conventional risk factors were measured at baseline.
Results: Over an average of 7 years' follow-up, there were a total of 259 incident CVD events (including myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass, percutaneous coronary angioplasty, stroke, heart failure) and 357 all-cause deaths. Very highly increased hsCRP was associated with CVD events after adjustment for Framingham risk score (FRS), body mass index (BMI), central obesity, and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) (hazard ratio 2.40, 95% CI 1.51-3.81) and also with all-cause death (hazard ratio 3.64, 95% CI 2.57-5.15). With the addition of CRP scores to the conventional Framingham model, 7.4% of participants were reclassified into a high-risk (>20% FRS) CVD category. Very highly increased hsCRP was also associated with several modifiable risk factors, including smoking, HDL cholesterol, and central obesity.
Conclusions: hsCRP >10 mg/L was a stronger predictor of clinical events than a conventional cut point of 3 mg/L. Very highly increased hsCRP may provide clinically meaningful prognostic information.