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Study suggests that inflammation may play a role in developing high blood pressure

High levels of C-reactive protein are associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, according to an article in the December 10 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Increased levels of C-reactive protein are associated with chronic activation of the immune system, otherwise known as an inflammatory response, according to background information in the article. High C-reactive protein levels have also been linked to an increase risk of heart attack and stroke. Because of this association, some researchers believe that hypertension (high blood pressure) may be in part an inflammatory disorder.

Howard D. Sesso, Sc.D., M.P.H., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues examined whether C-reactive protein levels were associated with hypertension.

The researchers studied 20,525 women who participated in the Women's Health Study, which started in 1992. Women participating in this study were 45 years or older at the beginning of the study, and had normal blood pressures (systolic blood pressure less than 140 mm Hg; diastolic blood pressure less than 90 mm Hg). Blood samples collected at the beginning of the study were used to measure C-reactive protein levels. Women were followed up for a median of 7.8 years (half the women were followed up longer than 7.8 years, half were followed up less than 7.8 years) for the development of hypertension.

Over the follow-up period, 5,365 women developed high blood pressure. The researchers found that "Overall, there was a positive association between increasing levels of C-reactive protein and risk of developing hypertension," the authors write. Participants with the highest levels of C-reactive protein measured at the beginning of the study were about twice as likely to develop hypertension.

"This study provides evidence that baseline levels of C-reactive protein are modestly but independently as
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Contact: Melanie Franco
617-534-1605
JAMA and Archives Journals
9-Dec-2003


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