C Reactive Protein: The Next Big Thing?  pg. 2

People diagnosed with metabolic syndrome possess at least three of the following conditions: elevated serum triglycerides, low HDL (often called the “good” cholesterol), visceral obesity, elevated blood pressure, and insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (see table).

Obesity may help tie inflammation to heart disease and diabetes.

Adipose (fat) tissue releases pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), which may contribute to the development of atherosclerosis and heart disease. IL-6 also may interfere with the body’s ability to respond to insulin, a hormone that regulates glucose metabolism. Resistance to insulin signaling is a hallmark of metabolic syndrome, and can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes.

“As a relatively specific marker of inflammation, (CRP) does help identify people” at elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, says Doug Vaughan, M.D., chair of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and former chief of Cardiovascular Medicine at Vanderbilt.

“It helps you change your perceptions about a given patient and perhaps move them from a moderate risk category to a higher risk category. And that in turn precipitates a more aggressive intervention to reduce risk. That’s the value of it.”

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