C-Reactive Protein

C-Reactive Protein

What’s covered?

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a substance found in the blood that increases in response to inflammation or injury. It is one of many acute phase reactants, which are proteins whose levels rise when inflammation and tissue damage occur, becoming a biomarker for infection or tissue damage. As the body’s repair system kicks into action during disease, CRP levels can increase up to 1000 fold within just 6 hours of an inflammatory event. In this way, CRP can be used as an indicator for health status.

It is critical for the maintenance of normal, healthy body functions.

CRP is an excellent indicator for infection, trauma and tissue damage, as well as other inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and certain types of cancer. It can also be a useful biomarker to indicate risk of heart disease and helps doctors diagnose diseases like rheumatic fever or active tuberculosis. CRP levels may also be used in conjunction with other blood tests to help monitor cancer treatment or determine whether surgical intervention is necessary. In recent years, CRP testing has become available as a low-cost screening tool that lets individuals track their own health status by measuring personal CRP levels over time.

A 2014 study published in the journal Neurology found that measuring blood CRP levels is a beneficial tool for predicting cognitive decline and dementia with high sensitivity. To view the Welzo study on blood testing, visit our comprehensive guide to blood testing here.

The best way to measure CRP levels is through a simple blood test. Results of tests done at different times can often be compared to see if there has been any change in health status or overall risk for disease. Tests are inexpensive and readily available, making it possible for individuals to monitor their own health over time by ordering their own personal CRP testing kits on the Internet and sending them out to an accredited laboratory for analysis. Since CRP reacts quickly, it is ideal for use as a monitoring tool.

Although the findings from CRP testing are detailed and accurate, standard laboratory procedures may not be perfect. It’s important to realize that levels of CRP in blood vary based on age, sex, diet and exercise habits as well as other factors. For example, because inflammation increases as we age, baseline levels generally increase with increasing age. Studies show that CRP level measurements need to take into account these variations in order to be clinically meaningful. What is considered “normal” varies greatly among individuals depending on their health profile and risk factors. In addition to this variability within the general population there are also significant differences between ethnic groups (African Americans tend to have higher baseline CRP levels overall than Caucasians and Hispanics).

It is important to note that high levels of CRP do not necessarily mean you are at risk for inflammation, especially if it has been present for a long period of time. However, both physical (e.g., exercise) and psychological stress may temporarily increase CRP levels in the blood by as much as 1000-fold. In this case, CRP can be considered a good biomarker for monitoring health status over short periods of time; however, it is less effective when used to assess longer-term trends.

To maintain good health, we should all strive to keep our bodies free from systemic inflammation which may lead to chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Research shows that certain dietary choices like eating more fruits and vegetables and less saturated fat and alcohol can have a positive impact on CRP levels. Further, exercise is a well-known tactic to reduce inflammation, so staying active throughout the day by taking regular breaks from sitting or standing at your desk, going for short walks during lunch break and engaging in moderate physical activity are all important steps towards good health.

When making decisions regarding your health, it is always best to consult with a medical professional. Although CRP testing can be a helpful tool in determining the risk of health problems and monitoring the response to treatment, it should never be used alone. Other factors such as diet, exercise and overall lifestyle need to be taken into account when considering how to improve your personal health status. And remember, good health is a dynamic and ongoing process in which you are always the most important participant.

Share article
Get 10% off your first order
Get 10% off your first order

Plus get the inside scoop on our latest content and updates in our monthly newsletter.