The CRP test, or C Reactive Protein assay, is one of the four essential blood tests for determining your risk of developing heart disease. It is very important that you have this exam as well as the three other tests we discuss on this site to determine what steps you must take to prevent any existing heart conditions from developing further.
The CRP blood test is also administered for reasons besides the determination of a developing heart condition, including checking for infections post-surgery, monitoring diseases and conditions that cause an increase in inflammation, and evaluating treatment for diseases such as cancer.
The test we are referring to here is called a high sensitivity CRP test. This one specifically checks for levels of C Reactive Protein, a marker of inflammation in the blood that is produced by your liver. The higher the CRP, the more inflammation in the arteries. The more inflammation, the higher your risk of heart disease and stroke.
What should your C Reactive Protein levels be?
The normal level of C Reactive Protein in your blood should be up to about 3.0mg/L (3.0 milligrams per liter). This is the concentration in the average healthy person. Optimal levels, indicating a low risk, would be anything less than 1.0mg/L. Anything in the 1.0-2.9 range would indicate a moderate risk. 3.0 and above would indicate an increased risk of cardiovasular disease.
It’s important to note that you should have your CRP test when you are healthy. A recent illness or surgical procedure could cause abnormally high levels, giving a false impression of an increased risk of heart problems. You should make sure nothing else is influencing the results and causing the high numbers.
The CRP Test is An Important Part of Your Regular Checkup
What do the studies show about the CRP and heart disease link?
There have been a number of substantial studies looking into this link. There was a Physicians Health Study of 18,000 healthy doctors which showed that high CRP levels tripled the risk of heart diease and stroke. There was also a Harvard’s Womens Health study which showed that CRP levels were more accurate in predicting heart disease risk than cholesterol levels.
These studies and various others at the very least suggest that it’s important to have your levels checked on a regular basis with a CRP test, especially as you get older. Together with your cholesterol numbers and your homocysteine and triglyceride levels it will help paint a clearer picture of your overall risk of heart disease and stroke.
How do you keep C Reactive Protein levels down?
Many doctors will prescribe a daily dose of aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. However, we believe you should avoid this protocol if possible due to the potential side effects, especially with long term use of these medications.
There are natural treatments that can help reduce inflammation in the blood. We believe that they are better options because they do not have the side effects of the pharmaceuticals and offer a healthy, natural alternative solution.
Following are some of the natural treatments for lowering C Reactive Protein levels and inflammation in the blood:
Fish Oil – By now you’ve certainly heard about the importance of omega 3 fatty acids in promoting heart health. Doctors and nutritionists have recommended Omega 3’s for years, and recently fish oil has been the most recommended source for these compounds.
Fish oil contains two of the most therapeutic omega 3’s: DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids are the most readily absorbed by the body (much more so than the ALA found in flax seed oil), and can help reduce inflammation in the blood, among other cardiovascular benefits.
Ginger – Ginger root extract has long been used in Asian cooking, and has been used for centuries as a digestive aid and motion sickness cure, and more recently to lower cholesterol. Ginger can also help reduce inflammation, as it relaxes the muscles surrounding blood vessels and facilitates blood flow throughout the body.
MSM – Methyl Sulfonyl Methane, commonly known as MSM, is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in some vegetables. MSM is found in many arthritis formulas, and has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
These three nutrients may help reduce C Reactive Protein levels in your blood. All three are important for maintaining heart health as well as general health and wellbeing.
You can find out about some of the other health applications of these nutrients as well as other important heart health nutrients throughout this site.
In summary, make sure a CRP test is part of your regular blood analysis whenever you go for a wellness checkup. Cholesterol is not the only risk factor.