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Healthy lifestyle changes may lower blood levels of a marker linked to heart disease risk, a new study finds. The substance, C-reactive protein (CRP), is a byproduct of inflammation, an immune-related response involved in the formation of artery-clogging plaque. CRP levels of 3 milligrams per liter (mg/L) and higher are associated with an elevated risk of heart disease.
The study involved people at risk for heart disease who were part of an ongoing study in the Netherlands. Researchers looked at 1,794 people with known heart disease who had CRP levels between 0.8 and 3.1 mg/L at their first visit. At the second visit, after a median follow-up period of nearly 10 years, the participants' CRP levels had dipped only slightly on average. However, CRP levels fell more substantially among people who quit smoking, lost weight, or increased their physical activity levels. The results suggest that healthy lifestyle changes help to lower inflammation, which in turn may lower cardiovascular risk, according to the authors. Their study appeared in the May 2020 issue of the journal Atherosclerosis.
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