What is the Cardiac C-Reactive Protein Blood Lab Test
The Cardiac C-Reactive Protein (CRP) blood test is used to measure the amount of CRP protein in your blood. The CRP is a protein that is present in the blood when the body has inflammation. Examples of diseases that have chronic inflammation include arthritis, lupus or inflammatory bowel disease. Most notably, the arteriosclerotic plaques in the coronary arteries is also considered an inflammatory process that correlates with C-reactive protein and therefore the CRP test is a good prognosticator of heart disease.
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Why Would One Get a CRP Blood Test?
The test is ordered, along with other blood tests, to estimate your chance of developing cardiovascular disease. It can also help determine your risk of having a sudden heart attack. The current CRP test that we offer is also called CRP-hs where hs denotes that it is sensitive enough to detect chronic low-level inflammation.
What if my CRP Tests are Elevated?
It is known that recent illness or tissue injury and chronic inflammation from arthritis can increase CRP levels and these may not be indicators of your risk for heart disease. It is important to discuss values outside the reference range with your health care provider. In general, elevated CRP values are associated with an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. It is unknown if having CRP in your blood stream actually causes the increased risk or if it is just present in the body. Typcially, those with high CRP levels will be treated with statins to reduce their cardiovascular event risk.
Because CRP levels can fluctuate over time, most experts now recommend measuring 2 CRP levels a few weeks apart, and averaging the two values.
If you’re having a CRP test to evaluate your risk of heart disease, these are the current risk levels used:
- Low risk. You have a CRP level of less than 1.0 milligrams per liter (mg/L).
- Average risk. You have a CRP level between 1.0 and 3.0 mg/L.
- High risk. You have a CRP level greater than 3.0 mg/L.
A test result showing a CRP level greater than 8 mg/L is a sign of serious inflammation or infection, and you should talk to your doctor about your test result to check for other medical problems.
A CRP test that is out of the normal reference range may prompt additional testing:
- cholesterol test,
- a stress test or
- a coronary angiogram,
There are many lifestyle change recommendations and/or medications available to decrease your risk of heart attack.