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CRP Not Cause of Heart Disease

Treatments Aimed Directly at Protein in Blood Won't Affect Heart Disease
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CRP and Heart Disease continued...

Finally, the researchers looked at people who actually had heart disease or stroke and compared them to people who remained disease free. The big surprise: People with the most active CRP genes were at no higher risk for heart disease and stroke than were people with the least active CRP genes.

To make sure their calculations were correct, the researchers also studied people with variant cholesterol genes. Those with genes that made the most cholesterol were indeed at highest risk of heart disease and stroke -- almost exactly as their calculations predicted.

This means CRP does not cause heart disease, says cardiologist Heribert Schunkert, MD, director of Germany's Luebeck University Hospital and professor of cardiology at the University of Leicester, England.

"It is pretty definitive. Genetic markers that increase CRP don't increase disease," Schunkert tells WebMD.

Also convinced is Thomas A. Pearson, MD, PhD, MPH, senior associate dean for clinical research at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Pearson led a recent study group that evaluated CRP research for the CDC and the American Heart Association.

"This is a nail in the coffin for the idea that CRP is a causal factor in heart disease," Pearson tells WebMD. "This is a very useful study, and cleverly done, and their conclusion is right on the money."

That conclusion: CRP is an indicator of heart disease and stroke risk, but not a cause.

The Nordestgaard study and an editorial by Schunkert and colleague Nilesh J. Samani, MD, FmedSci, appear in the Oct. 30 issue of TheNew England Journal of Medicine.

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