Protein predicts heart disease better than cholesterol

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Trial will test whether high level of the protein is counteracted by statins

C-reactive protein’s claim to fame is based on its power to predict a woman’s risk of developing heart attack and stroke. In fact, high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) were found to presage a woman’s chances of developing heart disease more accurately than that reigning oracle of the cardiology world, cholesterol. Researchers Paul Ridker, Nader Rifai, and their colleagues followed the medical fates of nearly 28,000 women, aged 45 and older, over an eight-year period. Women with high levels of CRP at the beginning of the study were twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as those with low levels. In fact, women with high CRP were more likely to develop heart disease than women with high cholesterol. Remarkably, many of the women with high CRP had normal levels of cholesterol, meaning they and their doctors probably had no idea that they were at high risk for heart disease. The findings appeared in the Nov. 14, 2002 New England Journal of Medicine.