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November 11, 2003
C-REACTIVE PROTEIN A STRONG PREDICTOR OF POOR FITNESS
C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation circulating in the blood, may also be an indicator of poor physical fitness, a Johns Hopkins study indicates.
Researchers took blood samples from 500 apparently healthy siblings of people with premature heart disease, then studied the performance of their hearts during treadmill exercise tests. Participants averaged age 47; 63 percent were women and 81 percent were African-American.
As CRP levels went up, fitness levels went down. Specifically, for each milligram-per-liter increase in CRP, the physical performance was equivalent to being an additional two years older. CRP was a strong, independent predictor of physical fitness, even after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity and smoking status.
"At this point, we're not sure if poor fitness level causes the increase in CRP, or vice versa," says Samia Mora, M.D., M.H.S., author of the study and a senior clinical cardiology fellow.
Those who were younger and had lower levels of CRP performed best on the fitness tests, while African-Americans and women were more likely to perform poorly.
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Johns Hopkins' Division of Cardiology
American Heart Association - 76th Scientific Sessions