Prior to testing for C-reactive protein (CRP), many individuals suffered heart diseases including heart attacks, strokes and other life threatening events without a single hint of warning. But when researchers discovered normal cholesterol levels were found in nearly half of heart attack patients, it meant there had to be an additional unknown factor at work. That’s when inflammation was identified as the underlying contributor to the onset of a heart attack.
In an eight year study involving 27,939 women led by Dr. Paul Ridker of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Bingham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Over half of the women who developed heart disease had high CRP levels, even though LDL levels were considered normal. Dr. Ridker may also believe this to be true for about 25% of the US population.
C-Reactive Protein’s Relationship to Heart Disease
Inflammation results when excess bad cholesterol, or LDL, makes its way into the bloodstream through the arterial wall. Once LDL is there, the inflammatory response is triggered and cholesterol accumulates on the arterial wall at a rapid pace, leading to an arterial blockage in the form of plaque and, eventually, a heart attack.
During this process, C-reactive protein is released. This discovery has led to a widespread change in protocols related to heart disease screening and testing.
C-Reactive Protein Testing
Because of its direct connection to arterial inflammation, studies indicate CRP could be a better indicator of heart disease than cholesterol levels.
The 2002 study found that women with elevated C-reactive protein levels were more than twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke as women with low levels. When tested against cholesterol’s ability to predict the development of cardiovascular events, C-reactive protein was approximately 40% better than cholesterol testing alone.
Actually, 2 test exist for CRP. A standard CRP test usually used in conjunction with tests for cancer of the lymph nodes, infections after a surgery or swelling of the joints for rheumatoid arthritis.
The second test is a high-sensitivity CRP or hs-CRP and considered better for testing inflammation as it relates to heart disease. This test can measure very low amounts of CRP in your blood.
Generally, levels below .10 mg/dl or 1 mg/l are considered normal.
hs-CRP level and heart disease risk 2
Less than 1.0 mg/L Low risk
1.0 to 3.0 mg/L Average risk
More than 3.0 mg/L High risk
What Affects The Test
CRP is an inflammation test. If you’ve just exercised, have an infection are pregnant or obese. You may not be able to have the test. People with intrauterine device (IUD) in place are also excluded from the test.
Benefits of C-Reactive Protein Testing
Not only is C-reactive protein testing more efficient, but also provides physicians and patients with the following benefits.
Inflammation – When compared with other tests to measure inflammation, using the CRP test has produced superior results.
Sensitive – As technology advances, the ability to test for increasingly smaller quantities of C-reactive protein draws near. Currently, levels as low as 0.1 mg per deciliter can be detected.
Practical – Unlike expensive laboratory testing, C-reactive protein tests are cost-effective and only require a tiny bit of blood to measure levels.
Live Heart Healthy
Natural ways to achieve healthy cholesterol levels include proper diet and nutrient supplementation, regular exercise and healthy lifestyle habits.
If you have high cholesterol or know someone who does, choosing the right plan of action can be confusing and overwhelming. While a variety of prescription medications are available, they’re not always the best option, as they can sometimes pose serious health side effects and health risks.
Research is now finding that LDL and HDL molecules are far more complex than originally thought. Be sure you are addressing the real issues behind your heart health. Discuss with your doctor all testing available to you like, high sensitivity c-reactive protein testing.