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In the prospective Physicians' Health Study, a cohort of almost 22,000 healthy, middle-aged men were tracked over an 8- to 10-year period for first ever occurrence of myocardial infarction (MI). As shown in the slide, the relative risk of a future MI increases in a direct linear fashion as the level of hs-CRP goes from low-normal to high-normal. This effect was highly statistically significant, and in fact, hs-CRP was as strong a predictor in this cohort as was cholesterol level. It is important to point that these data were derived from a high-sensitivity CRP assay; that is, all the levels of inflammation detected here are well within normal limits; none of these individuals have chronic inflammatory disorders.

Ridker PM, Cushman M, Stampfer MJ, Tracy RP, Hennekens CH. Inflammation, aspirin, and the risk of cardiovascular disease in apparently healthy men. N Engl J Med 1997;336:973-979.