Influenza epidemics are associated with significant morbidity and mortality in the elderly, with a substantial proportion of deaths due to cardiovascular events. Elevations of acute-phase proteins have been associated with an increased risk of atherosclerotic events. Therefore, serum amyloid A (SAA) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured during influenza illness and 4 weeks later in 7 young persons, 15 elderly outpatients, and 36 hospitalized adults. Striking elevations were seen in mean acute SAA and CRP levels in all groups, but hospitalized patients had the highest levels (SAA, 503 vs. 310 μg/mL [P = .006]; CRP, 120 vs. 34 μg/mL [P < .001]). The presence of dyspnea, wheezing, and fever was also associated with high CRP levels. Influenza infection is associated with significant elevations of SAA and CRP levels in elderly patients, especially those who require hospitalization. It is possible that direct effects of CRP may exacerbate preexisting atherosclerotic lesions and may help explain cardiovascular events associated with acute influenza.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Infectious Diseases