This Decision Guide is for people who have had a "high sensitivity" C-reactive protein (hsCRP) blood test and want information about the results. To use this guide, you'll need to know your hsCRP results. If you don't know what your results are, contact your doctor to find out. Then come back here!
High Sensitivity CRP : Some Background Information
CRP is a protein in the blood that is produced by the liver and tends to increase when there is inflammation in the body. There are two types of CRP tests commonly performed.
One is called the "high sensitivity" CRP or hsCRP test — it detects small amounts of CRP in the blood as a way to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease (such as heart attack and stroke). The other type is the "regular" CRP test, which detects larger amounts of the protein. These two tests are really measuring the same thing; the only difference is that the hsCRP test is measuring the protein at low amounts. The CRP is usually used to assess how much inflammation is in the body or how active a disease is (such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn's disease) while the hsCRP is used as a screening test to determine the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Inflammation in blood vessels has been linked with cardiovascular disease and hsCRP can detect this inflammation. That's why many doctors use hsCRP as a way to determine a patient's risk of future cardiovascular problems. However, not all doctors rely on such testing, and there is some controversy about how useful it is. It's probably most useful for a person who has one or two risk factors for cardiovascular disease (such as high LDL, or "bad," cholesterol and high blood pressure), and who might be considered at "medium" risk for cardiovascular disease. If such a person had a high hsCRP, his or her risk might instead be considered high, and more aggressive treatment and lifestyle changes could be recommended.
In certain situations, hsCRP may be low due to medications, such as ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory drugs. And people with some types of arthritis or other inflammatory conditions may have high hsCRP levels — for them, an hsCRP test may not be a good guide to cardiovascular disease risk.
That's enough background information for now. You'll have a chance at the end of this guide to learn more about hsCRP.
What is the result of your hsCRP test?
Date Last Modified: 3/26/2010
Source: from Harvard Health Decision Guides, Harvard Health Publications, Copyright © August 2010 by President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Used with permission of StayWell.