Results from several recent reports have linked high serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels to atherosclerotic disease and its complications. The aims of the present study were to investigate the relationship between CRP levels and subclinical atherosclerosis, as measured by ultrasound in the carotid and femoral arteries; and also to examine whether CRP levels are associated with antibodies to oxidized low-density lipoprotein (Ox-LDL). The study group (n = 391) consisted of clinically healthy 58-year-old men recruited from the general population. CRP and antibody titres to Ox-LDL were measured by ELISA. The results showed an association between CRP and ultrasound-assessed subclinical atherosclerosis in the femoral artery (r = 0.14, P = 0.010), and also between CRP and systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), blood glucose, cigarette-years and antibody titres to ox-LDL (r = 0.19, P < 0.001). In this clinically healthy population of 58-year-old men, CRP levels were associated with both intima-media thickness and plaque occurrence in the femoral artery. The association between CRP and femoral atherosclerosis was not independent of smoking, serum LDL cholesterol, or systolic blood pressure. CRP levels were independently related to abdominal obesity measured as WHR, smoking and antibody titres to Ox-LDL.

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