Paul M. Ridker, MD, Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), describes how inflammation can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Research conducted at BWH over the last 20 years, has found that in addition to high blood cholesterol, inflammation is related to the development of atherosclerosis. Inflammation can be measured by monitoring blood levels of a molecule called C-reactive protein (CRP). BWH researchers found that middle-aged men with higher levels of CRP were at much higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the future.
BWH researchers also designed a large clinical trial called JUPITER, which concluded that statins, cholesterol-lowering drugs, reduced the incidence of heart disease by lowering CRP levels. Recently, BWH has launched two clinical trials, Cardiovascular Inflammation Reduction Trial (CIRT) and Canakinumab Anti-inflammatory Thrombosis Outcomes Study (CANTOS), to determine whether individuals with high levels of inflammation are likely to have fewer heart attacks and strokes when receiving either methotrexate, an anti-inflammatory, or canakinumab, a monoclonal antibody which targets the inflammatory response.
In addition to medication, exercise and diets rich in foods that lower inflammation, such as whole grains, fish, extra virgin olive oil, and nuts, can help lower inflammation.
Learn more about the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Read the Inflammation and the Heart Video Transcript.