CRP Test for Heart Disease
CRP is a protein in the blood that shows the presence of inflammation. Inflammation is the body's response to injury or infection. CRP levels rise when there is inflammation. The inflammation process appears to contribute to the growth of plaque in arteries. According to some research studies, high levels of CRP may indicate inflammation in the artery walls and may be associated with an increased risk for developing heart disease and having a heart attack. Also, in many cases, a high CRP level is a sign of metabolic syndrome.
Heart disease research studies indicate that people with low CRP levels tend to have a slower progression of heart disease (as well as fewer heart attacks and deaths from heart disease) than those people with higher levels of the protein. Whether CRP plays a role in causing heart disease is not known.
A CRP test is a simple blood test that is currently used in a couple of situations. It is used to determine if inflammation is occurring in the body, such as in people who have had surgery or organ transplants. A CRP test is also used to see how well treatment is working in certain conditions known to cause inflammation. This includes conditions such as:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus for short)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
A CRP test is not used to diagnose specific conditions (including heart disease), because it can only give general information about whether inflammation is occurring in the body.