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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2001 Apr;21(4):603-10.

C-reactive protein, fibrin D-dimer, and incident ischemic heart disease in the Speedwell study: are inflammation and fibrin turnover linked in pathogenesis?

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  • 1University Department of Medicine, Royal Infirmary, Glasgow.


Plasma levels of C-reactive protein (CRP, a marker of the reactant plasma protein component of the inflammatory response) and of fibrin D-dimer (a marker of cross-linked fibrin turnover) have each been associated in recent studies with the risk of future ischemic heart disease (IHD). Previous experimental studies have shown that fibrin degradation products, including D-dimer, have effects on inflammatory processes and acute-phase protein responses. In the Speedwell Prospective Study, we therefore measured CRP and D-dimer levels in stored plasma samples from 1690 men aged 49 to 67 years who were followed-up for incident IHD for an average of 75+/-4 months (mean+/-SD) and studied their associations with each other, with baseline and incident IHD, and with IHD risk factors. CRP and D-dimer levels were each associated with age, plasma fibrinogen, smoking habit, and baseline evidence of IHD. CRP was associated with D-dimer (r=0.21, P<0.00001). On univariate analyses, both CRP and D-dimer were associated with incident IHD. The incidence of IHD increased with CRP independently of the level of D-dimer (P=0.0002) and also increased with D-dimer independently of the level of CRP (P=0.048). In multivariate analyses, inclusion of D-dimer and conventional risk factors reduced the strength of the association between CRP and incident IHD; likewise, inclusion of CRP and conventional risk factors reduced the strength of the association between D-dimer and incident IHD. We conclude that although these respective markers of inflammation and fibrin turnover show modest association with each other in middle-aged men, they may have additive associations with risk of incident IHD. Further larger studies are required to test this hypothesis.

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