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C-Reactive Protein Test for Heart Disease Found Useless

by S. L. Baker

(NaturalNews) When scientific studies found possible biomarkers for cardiovascular disease in recent years, it didn't take long for the medical industry to start manufacturing and promoting blood tests for them, especially the main, supposedly new risk factor for heart disease and stroke known as C-reactive protein (CRP). The claims for CRP testing being important were based on findings it might be a marker of inflammation which leads to heart attacks and strokes. But two new studies just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reach conclusions that seem to indicate it is far better to use plain common sense to identify individual risk factors such as being overweight, having high blood pressure, smoking tobacco, and not exercising as ways to predict who will have cardiovascular problems — not a host of expensive and unproven tests currently being hyped and promoted by many doctors and medical centers.

Olle Melander, MD, PhD, of Lund University in Sweden, and colleagues assessed a whole list of cardiovascular biomarkers to see if they were more useful in predicting future cardiovascular events than standard risk factors like hypertension. The study included 5,067 people with an average age of 58 who didn't have signs of heart disease at the beginning of the study, which recruited patients between 1991 and 1994. The research subjects were followed until 2006 and the Swedish national hospital discharge and cause-of-death registers were used to see if they had experienced cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke or coronary death.

Many of them had fallen ill to these health problems. In all, there were over 600 coronary and cardiovascular events experienced during this time. But did expensive biomarker tests turn out to predict who would have one of these events? The use of combinations of biomarkers including CRP and newer ones dubbed cystatin C, lipoprotein-associated phospholipase 2, midregional proadrenomedullin (MR-proADM), midregional proatrial natriuretic peptide, and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (N-BNP) showed some slight statistical ability to predict who was going to have heart attacks and stroke, but the finding was very minimal. In fact, the authors wrote, the biomarker testing "did not reclassify a substantial proportion of individuals to higher or lower risk categories". Bottom line: all those tests made no significant difference in figuring out who was at risk and who wasn't.

Another just-published JAMA study comes down even harder on the idea that CRP tests can predict heart attack and stroke risk. A group of international scientists, including researchers from Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada, put together data from several health studies which had collected DNA from 128,000 research subjects. Headed by epidemiologist Paul Elliott of Imperial College in London, the research team searched for proof that people who have genes known to raise CRP levels have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

But the findings showed that wasn't the case. There have also been claims in previous studies of associations between CRP and type 2 diabetes and even being overweight. But an association is not proof CRP is the cause of any of these health problems — nor a cause of heart attacks and strokes.

And there is now no evidence at all CRP testing should be carried out on the masses or that people with elevated CRP need to be treated with new drugs designed to lower it. "Moreover, this study suggests that development of therapeutic strategies targeting specific reductions in plasma levels of CRP are unlikely to be fruitful," the researchers concluded in a statement to the media.

As covered earlier this year in Natural News (…), it makes more sense to fight heart disease and stroke with a healthy lifestyle. Research conducted by scientists in Iceland found, in fact, that between 1981 and 2006 mortality rates from coronary heart disease (CHD) in Iceland plummeted by an amazing 80 percent in men and women between the ages of 25 and 74 due primarily to good nutrition, exercise and other natural approaches to health.

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