C-reactive protein (CRP), which is made by the liver, is one of the most sensitive markers of inflammation. A high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) test is more sensitive than a standard CRP test and can detect slight increases in CRP levels.
Cholesterol build-up is associated with low-grade inflammation which can be detected with this test. This CRP test helps determine your risk of cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease, as well as the risk of a second heart attack. Those with a high level of hs-CRP who have had a heart attack are more likely to have another event than those with a normal level.
Risk factors for heart disease can include:
High blood pressure
High cholesterol levels
Family history of heart disease
Lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity levels, alcohol consumption and smoking
CRP levels may be elevated for many reasons. These can include infection, recent surgery, or an inflammatory condition. Strenuous exercise, certain medications such as statins, NSAIDs, and hormone replacement therapy can impact your CRP levels. This CRP test is not suitable if you have a condition associated with chronic inflammation or elevated CRP levels such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease.
The CDC and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend for elevated results, that the test is repeated after a two-week period.
You should take the test if:
You are interested in learning about your risk of heart disease
You have risk factors for heart disease and want to learn more
You have taken a cholesterol test and want to learn more about your risk of heart disease
This test is often performed alongside a cholesterol test.
The sample must be collected in the morning on a Monday - Friday and returned on the same day.
It is important to talk to your physician if you are concerned about any symptoms or your risk of heart disease.