C-reactive protein (CRP) is a substance known as a biomarker that is produced by the liver in response to inflammation in the body. CRP levels are considered high if they exceed 10 milligrams per liter (mg / L).
These results could indicate a variety of inflammatory conditions, from infections to arthritis. But an elevated CRP is also cause for concern because it has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, including a heart attack.
Healthcare professionals don't often perform PCR tests like others. Most experts advise against this, including the US Preventive Services Task Force.
Your CPR level may be monitored if your healthcare provider thinks you may have an infection or other condition that is causing inflammation . And if you don't have obvious symptoms, high CRP levels can take you by surprise.
Read on to learn more about the causes of high CRP levels, what your results can tell you, and what you can do to lower your levels.
What do elevated CRP levels mean?
When CRP levels remain elevated for a long time, this may indicate the presence of chronic inflammation of the blood vessels.
This type of mild inflammation promotes the deposit of fat and other substances on the walls of the arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis .
This is true even for people with elevated CRP levels who do not show clear signs of active inflammation.
It is now well known that inflammation is an important factor in the development of atherosclerosis. An increase in CRP is also closely associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease.
What is not known is whether CRP actually contributes directly to CAD.
Elimination of risk factors.
At this time, little is known about whether it is useful to take measures specifically aimed at reducing CRP levels.
Likewise, it is not clear whether treatment specifically aimed at reducing CRP levels can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Also, knowing that your CRP levels are elevated should motivate you to take every opportunity to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Elevated CRP levels are almost always associated with other risk factors for heart disease , including:
- Of smoking
- Sedentary lifestyle
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic syndrome (a combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal lipids, and excess belly fat)
Talk to your healthcare provider about heart disease risk factors and what you can do to address them and your CRP levels.
This can include changing habits, trying to lose weight, and / or taking medicine.
Elevated CRP is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. While it's unclear how much reducing CRP can help, elevated levels are a sign that you likely have other risk factors that need to be addressed with aggressive measures.
Decrease in CRP levels.
While it is not yet clear how important it is to reduce elevated CRP, experts have identified several ways to do it.
Changes in lifestyle
You don't necessarily need medications to lower your CRP levels. Steps to improve your lifestyle can also help.
Ways to lower your CRP levels without medication include:
- Increase the amount of aerobic exercise (eg, running, brisk walking, biking)
- Give up smoking
- Slim down
- Eat a healthy diet
Several of these strategies can also reduce certain risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
Statins are drugs that lower cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that they can reduce CRP levels by 13-50%.
They can also significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, even in healthy patients with high CRP levels.
Statins that lower CRP levels and associated heart risks include:
- Crestor (rosuvastatin)
- Lipitor (atorvastatin)
- Mevacor (lovastatin)
- Pravachol (pravastatin)
- Zokor (simvastatin)
If you have high CRP levels, especially if you have one or more additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, you should talk to your doctor about using statins.
Does Aspirin Help?
Aspirin does not specifically lower CRP levels. However, daily aspirin therapy can be used as a preventive measure for heart attack and stroke.
This may be recommended for some people with elevated CRP levels, who are at increased risk for heart disease, or who have already experienced one of these effects.
Those with elevated CRP levels may benefit more from aspirin therapy than those with normal CRP levels.
Aspirin therapy is not for everyone. Always talk to your doctor before taking this medicine.
You can lower your CRP levels by living a healthy lifestyle and taking statins as needed. These strategies can help reduce CRP levels and potentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Elevated CRP levels indicate inflammation in the body.
Inflammation can be not only an indicator of problems like infections or arthritis, but also a contributing factor to heart problems like hardening of the arteries.
It is unknown whether CRP increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. It can simply reflect vascular damage and inflammation caused by other risk factors.
However, elevated CRP levels should be taken seriously as they are linked to conditions that affect the health of your heart and blood flow to the rest of your body.
Get the word of drug information
If you have elevated CRP levels, you should take this as an important sign that it is time to get serious about reducing all heart risk factors through exercise, quitting smoking, losing weight, dieting, and controlling blood pressure.
It can be difficult, but necessary. Seek the help of your doctor and other health professionals, such as a registered dietitian.