Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

Can C-Reactive Protein Make You Older?

As Heart Risk Marker Rises, Physical Fitness Drops
By
WebMD Health News

Nov. 13, 2003 -- C-reactive protein is a marker for heart disease. It may also be a marker for poor physical fitness.

Being fit protects against heart disease. Fitness improves all conventional markers of heart disease risk -- and then some. Where does the extra benefit come from? Part of it may be in reducing inflammation of blood vessels.

Inflammation starts as a protective process. Inflamed tissues swell, redden, and leak fluids. They also attract and activate cells of the immune system, which attack whatever they recognize as harmful. The process fights infection -- but causes tissue damage, too. Inflammation is a key factor leading to heart disease and stroke.

C-reactive protein is a chemical messenger that tissues give off when they get inflamed. People with heart disease have abnormally high levels of C-reactive protein -- 8.0 mg/L or higher. Does fitness have anything to do with C-reactive protein levels? Yes, finds Johns Hopkins researcher Samia Mora, MD.

In studies reported at this week's Scientific Sessions meeting of the American Heart Association, Mora measured C-reactive protein in patients with premature heart disease and in 500 of their apparently healthy siblings. She found that as C-reactive protein levels went up, fitness went down.

"Every 1 mg/L increase in C-reactive protein was equivalent to the effect [on exercise duration] of being approximately two years older," Mora writes in her presentation abstract.

However, it's not yet clear whether C-reactive protein is the cause or the effect of poor fitness.

"At this point, we're not sure if poor fitness level causes the increase in C-reactive protein or vice versa," Mora says in a news release.

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

Wet feet on shower floor tile
Slideshow
Flat Abs
Slideshow
 
Build a Better Butt Slideshow
Slideshow
woman using ice pack
Quiz
 

man exercising
Article
7 most effective exercises
Interactive
 
Man looking at watch before workout
Slideshow
Overweight man sitting on park bench
Video
 

pilates instructor
Slideshow
jogger running among flowering plants
Video
 
woman walking
Article
Taylor Lautner
Article