Monday, March 21, 2011

Protein heart tests: A lifesaver or overhyped?

Dianne has always worried about her heart health -- both her parents died of heart attacks -- yet her cholesterol has never been off the charts. All the same, the 59-year-old schoolteacher (who asked that her last name not be used) has been taking a cholesterol-lowering statin for more than two years.

Why? In 2007, Dianne's cardiologist discovered that her blood contained abnormally high levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation. Dr. Yazid Fadl, a cardiologist at Clarian Cardiovascular, in Indianapolis, considered Dianne's high CRP reason enough to prescribe a statin. "If her CRP were low, I would have advocated weight loss and exercise," he says.

Dianne may soon have lots of company. More doctors are testing and treating CRP, particularly since the Food and Drug Administration gave the green light in February to use one statin, Crestor, to treat patients with normal cholesterol but elevated CRP. Read more...

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