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Low-grade inflammation is an independent risk factor of heart disease [28], stroke [26], diabetes [29,30] and all-cause mortality. [31] Research findings suggest that atherosclerosis, which involves the formation of fatty deposits (plaques) and activity of free radicals and infectious agents in the arteries, can be likened to arthritis of the bones and joints because they are both inflammatory disorders. Inflammation predates the detection of insulin resistance and therefore may be a good predictor of diabetes. [32]

 

Researchers are now recognizing low-grade inflammation in its central role in insulin resistance, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Understanding the underlying causes of inflammation will help guide prevention and treatment guidelines. A lifestyle including excessive amounts of refined foods and a lack of exercise is emerging as the main contributing factor. Treatment strategies should focus on exercise and diet modification. Click here for more information on the causes of chronic inflammation.



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Adapted from Barzilay & Freeland, 2003 [32]

 

 

Chronic inflammation is associated with metabolic syndrome, which is a term used to describe the clustering of symptoms associated with adverse cardiovascular events and related comorbities.  Insulin resistance, high blood pressure, obesity, decreased HDL (good) cholesterol and elevated triglycerides are all symptoms of metabolic syndrome, often called Syndrome X. C-Reactive protein has recently been added to the list. [33-35] The prevalence on metabolic syndrome reported in 2002 was approximately 23% of general population and approximately 43% of people above age 60 in the United States. [36] A recent study found the prevalence in older adults to range from 16 24 % depending on the definition used. [37] It is unclear whether earlier estimates were too high in the elderly population. Regardless, this study found that being female, having low-grade inflammation, coronary artery disease, and a history of stroke were all associated with metabolic syndrome.
 
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Should you get tested for elevated CRP levels?


Take the Global Risk Assessment provided by American Heart Association to find out your cardiovascular risk score. [38]

If your risk is low, testing is not warrented. If your risk is moderate or high, CRP testing may help guide treatment options.

 

Link to the following pages to learn more about each disease
Cardiovascular Disease
Diabetes
Stroke

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