C-Reactive Protein
(CRP)

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What is C-reactive protein (CRP)?

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a blood test marker for inflammation in the body. CRP is produced in the liver and its level is measured by testing the blood.

CRP is classified as an acute phase reactant, which means that its levels will rise in response to inflammation. Other common acute phase reactants include the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and blood platelet count.

What are the main causes of an elevated C-reactive protein?

In general, the main causes of increased CRP and other markers of inflammation are:

  • burns,
  • trauma,
  • infections,
  • inflammation,
  • active inflammatory arthritis, and
  • certain cancers.

Is there a link between C-reactive protein (CRP) and cardiovascular disease risk?

The elevation of CRP has also been recently linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease. Atherosclerosis, or cholesterol plaquing of the arteries, is known to have an inflammatory component that is thought to cause the rise in CRP levels in the blood. Atherosclerosis is also felt to be affected by age and other cardiovascular risk factors including diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking.

In atherosclerosis, the blood vessel wall becomes injured. This injury acts as focus of inflammation and leads to the formation of plaques in the blood vessel walls. The plaques typically contain blood cells of inflammation, cholesterol deposits, and debris from the injured cells in the blood vessel lining. The accumulation of these elements leads to narrowing of the wall of the blood vessel. The blood vessel narrowing can hinder the blood flow and the plaque can rupture and flake off of the blood vessel wall causing blockage and leading to strokes and heart attacks.

The burden of plaques in the body can be proportional to the degree of CRP elevation in persons with atherosclerosis. Atherosclerotic plaques can exist in different stages throughout the body.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2014

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C-Reactive Protein Test (CRP) - Testing Question: What were the results of your C-Reactive Protein Test (CRP)?
C-Reactive Protein - Test Question: Did a C-reactive protein test diagnose your cardiovascular condition? Please explain.
Lowering your C-reactive protien levels may decrease your risk for heart attack or stroke.

C-Reactive Protein (CRP) Test

Lowering Your C-Reactive Protein

Medical Author: Siamak Nabili, MD, MPH
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

The treatment of an elevated CRP in the context of cardiovascular disease, in and of itself, may be meaningless. Instead, appropriate treatment and prevention of the underlying risks and conditions need to be the primary focus of cardiovascular risk reduction.

The most effective and reliable ways to reduce many cardiac factors are regular exercise, balanced diet, and cigarette smoking cessation. In individuals with elevated cholesterol levels who do not reach their target cholesterol level with diet modification and proper exercise, cholesterol lowering medication may be advised by their treating physicians. Statin drugs (simvastatin [Zocor], atorvastatin [Lipitor], etc.) are in the forefront of the recommended cholesterol lowering agents. Lowering of CRP may be seen with the use of statin drugs even without significant improvement of the cholesterol profile.


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