Author(s): Gussekloo J, Schaap MC, Frlich M, Blauw GJ, Westendorp RG
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Abstract An elevated level of C-reactive protein is a strong predictor of cardiovascular events in elderly persons. Whether C-reactive protein has direct adverse vascular effects or is a marker of aspecific systemic inflammation remains to be determined. The aim of this study was to investigate the relation between C-reactive protein and the occurrence of fatal strokes in elderly persons. In the Leiden 85-Plus Study, a population-based prospective follow-up study, we studied the levels of C-reactive protein in 80 participants who died from stroke within the first 5 years of follow-up. Levels of C-reactive protein were determined in serum samples at baseline. Levels of C-reactive protein were also determined in 82 control subjects who survived for the first 5 years of follow-up and in 83 participants who died from noncardiovascular causes. Mortality risks were estimated with logistic regression and adjusted for differences in age, sex, smoking, medication, total cholesterol, history of diabetes or hypertension, and previous cardiovascular events. Levels of C-reactive protein at baseline were 2-fold higher in subjects who died from stroke than in control subjects (median 5.7 versus 2.7 mg/L, P<0.005). The levels of C-reactive protein in subjects who died from stroke or from noncardiovascular causes were similar (median 5.7 versus 4.9 mg/L, P=0.7). The risk of death from stroke as well as from noncardiovascular causes increased linearly up to 10-fold in subjects with the highest levels of C-reactive protein at baseline (P<0.001). The levels of C-reactive protein were lower when more time had elapsed between blood sampling and time of death during follow-up (P=0.01). C-reactive protein is a strong but nonspecific risk factor of fatal stroke in old persons. The data do not support the idea that C-reactive protein has direct vascular effects that underlie fatal cerebrovascular disease.
This article was published in Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol
and referenced in Biochemistry & Physiology: Open Access