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- Patient Comments: C-Reactive Protein Test (CRP) - Testing
- What is C-reactive protein (CRP)?
- What are the main causes of an elevated C-reactive protein (CRP)?
- Is there a link between C-reactive protein (CRP) and cardiovascular disease risk?
- Is elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) a risk factor for cardiovascular disease?
- How is C-reactive protein (CRP) measured?
- How can C-reactive protein (CRP) values predict potential heart disease?
- What is the normal range for C-reactive protein?
- Should I have my C-reactive protein (CRP) level tested?
- What are signs and symptoms of an elevated C-reactive protein level?
- What is the treatment for high C-reactive protein (CRP)?
- What is the outlook for those with an elevated C-reactive protein (CRP)?
How can C-reactive protein (CRP) values predict potential heart disease?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the CDC, the following guidelines are recommended for the assessment of cardiovascular risk in regards to hs-CRP levels:
- Low risk for cardiovascular disease if hs-CRP is 1 milligram (mg) per liter or less
- Moderate risk for cardiovascular disease if hs-CRP is between 1 and 3 mg per liter
- High risk for cardiovascular disease if hs-CRP greater than 3 mg per liter
CRP level of greater than 10 mg per liter may be seen in an acute plaque rupture such as, a heart attack or stroke, provided there is no other explanation for the elevated level (other inflammatory or infectious process).
What is the normal range for C-reactive protein?
C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation and is typically not detected in the blood unless some degree of inflammation is present in the body.
Should I have my C-reactive protein (CRP) level tested?
Checking the CRP level for the entire adult population is not recommended.
Some experts recommend checking the serum CRP level routinely along with the cholesterol level; however, although this is not widely accepted. Ideally, for cardiac risk testing, it is advisable to use the average between two separate CRP levels drawn two weeks part.
More importantly, the CRP level can provide additional information about an individual's cardiovascular risk in conjunction with other known cardiac risk factors, such as, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, age, and smoking.
What are signs and symptoms of an elevated C-reactive protein level?
There are no signs or symptoms that are specific for an elevated C-reactive protein level, because it is not a specific test. Signs or symptoms, if present, would depend on the underlying inflammatory condition that is the cause of the elevated CRP level.
What is the treatment for high C-reactive protein (CRP)?
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 (such as 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.
Reduction of CRP level has also been noted in individuals with known cardiovascular disease who begin aspirin therapy. In those without known cardiovascular disease or significant risk factors for it, aspirin use is not generally recommended. Some diabetic medications (thiazolidinediones) have also been shown to reduce CRP levels in people with or without diabetes mellitus. This effect was seen independent of their glucose-lowering affects.