C-reactive protein as a marker for active coronary artery disease in patients with chest pain in the emergency room

Rasmi Magadle, Paltiel Weiner, Marinella Beckerman, Noa Berar-Yanay
Clinical Cardiology 2002, 25 (10): 456-60

BACKGROUND: Markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), were found to be related to risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) events in patients with angina pectoris. In addition, recent studies have shown that, in the case of atherosclerosis, increased CRP concentration reflects the inflammatory condition of the vascular wall.

HYPOTHESIS: The study was undertaken to determine whether CRP levels in individuals with chest pain attending the emergency room (ER) may be used as a marker of active CVD.

METHODS: Serum CRP level was measured in 226 of 326 consecutive patients (128 men, 98 women; mean age 61.3 +/- 5.9 years; range 19-87 years) referred to the ER with chest pain. The decision whether to admit orrelease the subjects was determined without taking the CRP level into account. Follow-up was then performed for 1 year.

RESULTS: Eighty-four patients were admitted to the hospital. Of these, 9 with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) had very high levels of CRP (25-40 mg/l), 35 had had an acute coronary event within the preceding 3 months, with levels of CRP 14-20 mg/l. Only eight patients with nonsignificant CVD had elevated CRP levels. Twenty-eight subjects who were released from the ER had elevated CRP levels (7-14 mg/l); 8 of these, in addition to 4 subjects with normal CRP levels, had a late coronary event.

CONCLUSION: This study indicates that in patients referred to the ER with chest pain and no other indication for hospitalization, a normal level of CRP suggests safe release. Most hospitalized patients with normal CRP will not have acute coronary syndrome. Patients who will develop early coronary events have very high CRP levels. High serum CRP level, after excluding other inflammatory sources, was proven to be a sensitive diagnostic and prognostic marker for significant coronary disease.

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