C-Reactive Protein and your Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

C-reactive protein or CRP, is something you will be hearing more about in the coming years. As one of the most important cardiovascular disease risk factors its detection has a key role in cardiovascular disease prevention.

                           What is CRP

CRP is a protein produced by the liver in response to acute inflammation and can rise up to 50,000 over normal during serious infection. CRP is mainly used as a marker for inflammation, as its levels reflect the severity of infection.

The hs-CRP test, is a blood test that is used to measure levels of CRP in the bloodstream. It is a very sensitive test and is generally used to predict a healthy person’s cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Here are the guidelines of the American Heart Association and the Center for Disease Control:

  • Low Risk: Less than 1.0 mg/L
  • Average Risk: 1.0 to 3.0 mg/L
  • High Risk: Above 3.0 mg/L

C-Reactive protein, along with blood lipid profile (cholesterol numbers) and Homocysteine levels comprise the three indicators that are most useful for cardiovascular disease prevention. When high values are flagged for these tests, a person can begin to implement the lifestyle changes that will protect against heart disease.


Other Factors That Can Affect CRP Levels

Persons with a recent illness or who have severe or chronic arthritic conditions should not take the hs-CRP test. This can skew the results of the test, as chronic inflammatory conditions will elevate CRP. It is important that the person be healthy to begin with, so that the true measure of cardiovascular disease risk factors can be determined. Anti inflammatory drugs and medications can skew the results in the other direction, as they will lower CRP.

Experts caution that the CRP test is not by itself a reliable indicator of heart disease. This is because a number of things can elevate it, and in some patients it is hard to determine what a “normal” reading should be for that particular individual.

However, since readings over 2.4 mg/L is associated with double the risk of a coronary event such as heart attack or stroke, the association between CRP levels and coronary artery disease seems strong.

CRP and Artery Damage

CRP levels should be seen as an indicator that the level of inflammation in the body is high and that this process is likely damaging the integrity of your vascular system. While it is not certain if reducing the levels will prevent or reverse arterial damage, reductions in these levels certainly shows that you are going in the right direction.

High levels of inflammatory proteins and enzymes in the blood show that the health of your vascular system is being threatened. You should work with a qualified medical practitioner to take the necessary steps for cardiovascular disease prevention.

In closing, please remember that C-Reactive protein levels, taken with cholesterol profile, Homocysteine, and triglycerides are needed for the total picture of cardiovascular disease risk factors.

C-reactive protein is but one of a new and very useful set of indicators that can help you accurately assess what is going wrong in your body in time to fix it, and continue on your way to a long and healthy lifespan.

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