Exercise, C-reactive protein, and your heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; with the exception of 1918, it has held that dubious distinction every year since 1900. Nearly 2,600 Americans die of heart disease each day — that's one death every 34 seconds. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, since more than 64 million American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease; in some 13 million, the problem is coronary artery disease. In all, American men face a 49% lifetime risk of developing coronary artery disease beyond the age of 40.

Faced with a near epidemic of coronary artery disease, scientists have identified a series of factors that increase risk. As research continues, new risk factors have been discovered. It's enabled doctors to devise new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat heart disease. One of the newest risk factors is C-reactive protein (CRP); one of the oldest preventive tactics is exercise. Can this old standby help with the new worry?

Atherosclerosis or "atheroscleritis"

Coronary artery disease is a manifestation of atherosclerosis; in addition to heart attacks, the disease is responsible for most strokes, for many cases of kidney failure, and for peripheral artery disease that can lead to gangrene and amputations, usually in the legs and feet.

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