CRP Screening: Taking No Risks

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Science  14 Feb 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5609, pp. 979
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5609.979d

Only some individuals who develop coronary artery disease have high cholesterol levels, and there has been considerable interest in markers that would identify high-risk individuals who might be missed in cholesterol screens. Over the past decade, C-reactive protein (CRP), a liver-derived inflammatory protein, has emerged as a strong and independent predictive marker of future cardiovascular disease (News Focus, 12 April 2002, p. 242). Importantly, CRP levels can be measured in a simple and relatively inexpensive blood test.

Whether and how CRP tests should be incorporated into clinical practice are questions being discussed in the cardiovascular research community, as described in several articles, which include the official set of recommendations from an expert panel assembled by the American Heart Association and the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although Pearson et al. acknowledge that the CRP test may provide helpful data in cases where other risk factors are present (e.g., for individuals who have high blood pressure and/or moderately high levels of cholesterol), they did not endorse widespread use of the test and stressed the need for studies to determine whether interventions that lower CRP levels will, in fact, lower the rate of heart disease. — PAK

Circulation107, 499 (2003).

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