In 1978-80, 5661 men aged 40-59 years provided blood samples for the British Regional Heart Study.
Researchers from Oxford and London, England, investigated the 506 men in the group who had died from coronary heart disease or had non-fatal myocardial infarction by 1996. They compared them with 1025 men who remained free of such disease.
Men with a high CRP have two-fold rise in heart disease.
Dr John Danesh and colleagues measured C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A protein, serum albumin and leukocyte count on the blood samples. They also checked Helicobacter pylori seropositivity, and Chlamydia pneumoniae IgG titres.
The men who were to develop ischemic heart disease had a significant elevation of both C reactive protein and amyloid A protein - many years before the onset of their heart disease.
A mild increase of C reactive protein is linked to a two-fold rise in heart disease. A higher leukocyte count and lower serum albumin were also markers of increased risk.
The serum markers of low-grade inflammation were not related to serological evidence of either H. pylori or C. pneumoniae infection.
"H. pylori is not associated with these inflammation markers"
Dr John Danesh
"Although the inflammatory response is part of the atherosclerotic process, we still don't know why", commented Professor Wolfgang Koenig.
The authors conclude that low-grade inflammatory processes may be relevant to coronary heart disease - but they have nothing to do with H. pylori.