"The exact role of both calcium scores and CRP levels await more definitive studies, but we have found that their combined use is predictive of cardiovascular events," says Robert Detrano, M.D., Ph.D. study coauthor and professor of medicine at UCLA School of Medicine.
The tests are complementary: coronary calcium indicates the presence and amount of coronary atherosclerosis, while CRP suggests that plaque contains inflammatory factors that make it more prone to rupture and block blood vessels.
"Together they can gauge the presence, the amount and the stability of artery-clogging plaque," says Detrano.
Recent research has shown elevated CRP levels impart increased risk of a coronary event, he says. However, it's uncertain whether elevated levels of either cause risk or are just an association.
In Detrano's study, researchers examined data from more than 1,400 people free of heart disease when enrolled. Participants were part of the South Bay Health Watch, a study of adults from Los Angeles suburbs. They were 45 years or older with multiple cardiovascular risk factors, but had not exhibited symptoms of cardiovascular disease. All had their calcium and CRP levels measured. Researchers followed 967 of the people who didn't have diabetes for about six and a half years. People with diabetes were excluded because calcium scores have not bee
Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association