C-reactive protein is a valuable marker for heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
High sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP) is produced in the liver in response to inflammation, so this test can measure the extent of chronic inflammation in the body and more specifically, in the heart. Recent studies demonstrate that a CRP reading above normal range may be a more important indicator than high cholesterol in predicting heart attack and stroke. Obesity and insulin resistance affect cells in ways that increase inflammation, so CRP readings can be used to detect inflammation early, before it leads to chronic disease.
High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP)
C-reactive protein (CRP) is an established marker of inflammation and has recently been suggested to be an important contributor to pro-inflammatory and pro-thrombotic elements of CVD risk. Extremely high CRP levels are seen in acute inflammatory states, but the small elevations that are indicative of the pro-inflammatory and pro-thrombotic states implicated in the metabolic syndrome require high sensitivity assays, and are thus referred to as hs-CRP levels. These high sensitivity assays have recently been developed for use with blood spots.
What Causes High CRP Levels?
Overweight, obese, insulin resistant and diabetic individuals typically have elevated CRP levels.
Studies have shown correlations between elevated CRP and increased risk of future heart attacks, ischemic stroke, and peripheral arterial disease.
Elevated CRP levels have been found to predict the development of type 2 diabetes.
Increased CRP levels, which correlate inversely with insulin sensitivity, have been found in individuals with polycystic ovarian syndrome and may be a marker of early cardiovascular risk in these women.
What Lowers CRP Levels?
Lifestyle changes such as aerobic exercise, weight loss, healthy diet and smoking cessation have been known to lower CRP.
Medications like aspirin and statins can lower CRP levels.
What are Normal Levels of CRP?
Levels below 3.0 mg/L are considered to be normal; 3.1 to 10 mg/L is elevated, in the context of CVD risk, and above 10 mg/L is very high, more likely indicating an acute inflammatory event due to infection or trauma
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Reprinted in part with permission of ZRT Laboratory