C-reactive protein (CRP) is an inflammatory biomarker of inflammation and may reflect progression of vascular disease. Conflicting evidence suggests CRP may be a prognostic biomarker of ischemic stroke outcome. Most studies that have examined the relationship between CRP and ischemic stroke outcome have used mortality or subsequent vascular event as the primary outcome measure. Given that nearly half of stroke patients experience moderate to severe functional impairments, using a biomarker like CRP to predict functional recovery rather than mortality may have clinical utility for guiding acute stroke treatments. The primary aim of this study was to systematically and critically review the relationship between CRP and long-term functional outcome in ischemic stroke patients to evaluate the current state of the literature. PubMed and MEDLINE databases were searched for original studies which assessed the relationship between acute CRP levels measured within 24 hours of symptom onset and long-term functional outcome. The search yielded articles published between 1989 and 2012. Included studies used neuroimaging to confirm ischemic stroke diagnosis, high-sensitivity CRP assay, and a functional outcome scale to assess prognosis beyond 30 days after stroke. Study quality was assessed using the REMARK recommendations. Five studies met all inclusion criteria. Results indicate a significant association between elevated baseline high sensitivity CRP and unfavorable long-term functional outcome. Our results emphasize the need for additional research to characterize the relationship between acute inflammatory markers and long-term functional outcome using well-defined diagnostic criteria. Additional studies are warranted to prospectively examine the relationship between high sensitivity CRP measures and long-term outcome.
Keywords: C-reactive protein; CRP; Functional recovery; Ischemic stroke; Neuroimaging; Outcome after stroke; Prognosis.
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