C-reactive protein predicts future cardiovascular events in patients with carotid stenosis

Oliver Schlager, Markus Exner, Wolfgang Mlekusch, Schila Sabeti, Jasmin Amighi, Petra Dick, Oswald Wagner, Renate Koppensteiner, Erich Minar, Martin Schillinger
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2007, 38 (4): 1263-8

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Atherosclerosis is a systemic inflammatory disease. We demonstrated previously that high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) is associated with short-term progression of carotid atherosclerosis. We now investigated whether baseline levels of hs-CRP predict midterm clinical outcome in these patients.

METHODS: We prospectively studied 1065 of 1268 consecutive patients who were initially asymptomatic with respect to carotid artery disease and were investigated with serial carotid ultrasound examinations at baseline and after a 6- to 9-month interval. Patients were followed-up clinically for the occurrence of cardiovascular events, a composite of myocardial infarction, percutaneous coronary intervention, coronary artery bypass graft, stroke, and death.

RESULTS: We recorded progression of carotid stenosis in 93 patients (9%) after 6 to 9 months, and 381 cardiovascular events in 337 patients (27%) during a median of 3 years of clinical follow-up (interquartile range, 2.5 to 3.5 years). The hs-CRP levels were significantly elevated in patients with progressive carotid stenosis (P<0.001), and hs-CRP was significantly associated with the occurrence of a first future cardiovascular event (P<0.001). Adjusted hazard ratios for a first cardiovascular event for increasing quintiles of hs-CRP were 1.41 (95% confidence interval, 0.92 to 2.17), 1.76 (95% confidence interval, 1.17 to 2.66), 2.22 (95% confidence interval, 1.48 to 3.32), and 2.41 (95% confidence interval, 1.61 to 3.60) as compared with the lowest quintile, respectively. This association was independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors and the baseline degree of carotid stenosis.

CONCLUSIONS: Inflammation was associated with morphological and clinical progression of atherosclerotic disease. Patients with elevated levels of hs-CRP exhibit an increased risk for adverse cardiovascular outcome attributable to clinical adverse events of progressive atherosclerotic disease.

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