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C-Reactive Protein

What is CRP?

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a substance produced by the liver and released into the bloodstream in response to inflammation in the body. Elevated levels of CRP in the bloodstream are an independent risk factor for heart attack and stroke especially in women.

In fact, it was determined in a study done at Brigham & Women's Hospital (Ridker et al) that women with high levels of CRP were twice as likely to have heart attacks, and in some instances, it is even more predictive than elevated LDL cholesterol. 

Inflammation plays a very important role in the development of heart disease. It is found to occur in the blood vessel walls in the very beginning stages of atherosclerosis (build up of plaque).

How do you determine what your CRP level is?

A simple blood test can confirm the presence of an elevated amount of CRP in the bloodstream. The test is usually taken twice within a two to three week period to determine a baseline reading.

Can I lower my CRP level?

If your CRP is elevated because of risk of heart disease then by improving all your other cardiac risks like high cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, excess weight and diabetes will help lower the level. If this is not effective in reducing elevated CRP, your doctor may suggest additional treatment.

Do other conditions cause an elevated CRP?

Any acute injury or infection can elevate your CRP level. Hormone replacement therapy affects levels of CRP. Your doctor can assist with evaluating you for other conditions that may affect your CRP level.