Raised inflammatory markers as a predictor of one-year mortality: A cohort study using primary care electronic health record data

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Objectives: Identification of patients at increased mortality risk is important in the context of increasing multimorbidity and an ageing population, to help facilitate the planning and delivery of services. The aim of this study was to examine one-year all-cause mortality in a cohort of primary care patients in whom inflammatory markers including C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and plasma viscosity (PV), had been tested.
Design: Observational cohort study using GP Electronic Health Records from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, with linkage to ONS Death Registry.
Setting: UK Primary Care.
Participants: 159,325 patients with inflammatory marker tests done in 2014 and 39,928 age, sex and practice matched controls without inflammatory marker testing. ONS Death registry data was available for 109,966 participants.
Primary and secondary outcome measures: One-year mortality in those with raised inflammatory markers compared to normal inflammatory markers and untested controls. Sub-analyses stratified one-year mortality by age-group, gender and cause of death.
Results: Patients with a raised inflammatory marker (n=47,797) had an overall one-year all-cause mortality of 6.89%, compared to 1.41% in those with normal inflammatory markers (p<0.001) and 1.62% in untested controls. A raised CRP is associated with the highest mortality rate at 8.76% compared to 4.99% for ESR and 4.66% for PV. One-year mortality is higher in men with a raised inflammatory marker compared to women (9.78% versus 5.29%). The c-statistic of a simple mortality prediction model containing age, sex and CRP test result is 0.89. 
Conclusions: Inflammatory markers are a strong predictor of all-cause mortality in primary care, with a c-statistic comparable to several previously developed frailty indices. Future research should consider the added value of CRP testing, in combination with other risk factors, to improve prediction of mortality in primary care. Evidence based interventions for frailty are needed alongside predictive tools.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Open
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020


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