C-reactive protein (CRP) is produced by the liver and is an indication of inflammation throughout the body. It belongs to a group of proteins called “acute phase reactants,” which all increase in response to inflammation. A CRP blood test can be useful for determining if there is any inflammation; however, it is important to note that a CRP blood test says nothing about the source of the inflammation, which is why it is often paired with other tests. Further, inflammation can be either acute or chronic. Acute inflammation is a normal response to burns, injuries, and other physical traumas, and the inflammatory state will return to normal once the injury or infection is healed. Chronic inflammation, however, develops over a long period of time, perhaps years. High-sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP) blood tests are often done to check for flare-ups of inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, or when infection is suspected. They may also be run to determine if an anti-inflammatory medicine is working to treat a disease or condition. In addition, High-sensitivity CRP is thought to be a useful test for determining risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Further, many healthcare professionals believe that, when combined with a lipid profile, an hs-CRP blood test is the best marker of these conditions before the development of symptoms or disease.
Normal Ranges in mg/L:
Greater than 2.9 – Critical
1.0 to 2.9 – Intermediate risk
Less than 1.0 – Low risk
The level of hs-CRP in the blood is normally low in a healthy person.
An elevated hs-CRP score indicates inflammation somewhere in the body. While acute inflammation due to injury or infection is normal, chronic inflammation may be indicative of disease. This condition is linked to many serious health concerns, including: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune diseases, and neurological diseases. Having chronic inflammation in the “critical” zone for long periods of time may also increase your risk for all aforementioned diseases.
It is worth noting that elevated hs-CRP results occur during the last half of pregnancy and with the use of oral contraceptives.
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