Getting Tested for CRP May Save Your Life
January 26, 2005
Having high cholesterol and high blood pressure may not be the only culpritsbehind impaired heart health. According to findings, high levels ofa protein known as CRP (C-reactive protein) have been found to increaseone's risk of heart disease. In fact, studies have suggested the higherthe CRP level, the greater the risk.
And, while scientists are unaware if reducing the level would decreasethe risk of heart disease, some cardiologists say almost all patients--whetherthey feel they are healthy or not--can benefit from knowing theirlevel.
For example, one man who had his levels checked as a preventativemeasure received shocking results. Other than being a smoker, theman was healthy, stayed trim, exercised every day, did not takeany prescription drugs and had low blood pressure and cholesterol.However, after being tested twice, the man's CRP levels were a higher-than-normal3.1, signifying an elevated risk of heart disease. And quittinghis smoking habit would only bring his levels down a mere one-halfof a point.
The Role of CRP
CRP measures inflammation and is made in the liver and in cellslining blood vessels. Levels of the protein rise with factors thatmake heart disease more probable, such as:
- High cholesterol
Conversely, levels fall when patients lose weight, stop smokingand get their diabetes and cholesterol under control.
Whether CRP is an indicator or an instigator of heart disease remainsunder investigation: Infectious-disease specialists noted the proteinis part of the body's way of fending off microbial invaders, whileother research suggests CRP contributes to rupturing plaque andforming blood clots that block arteries--two components of a heartattack.
NewYork Times January 11, 2005
USAToday January 6, 2005