C reactive protein

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein that is produced by the liver and is found in the blood. CRP levels in the blood increases if there is an inflammation anywhere in the body and therefore high levels of CRP is cause for concern and can be evidence of burns, inflammation, trauma, infection, active inflammatory arthritis, some cancers and more recently CRP has been linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
The purpose of CRP is to bind to phosphocholine on microbes and it assists phagocytosis by macrophages which means that it helps with the destruction and assimilation of bacteria, dead cells and small mineral particles.
CRP is believed to play an important role as an early defense system against infections in the body; in situations of acute inflammation CRP levels increase as much as 50,000 times above normal, typically within 6 hours and peaks at 48 hours. The CRP level is a very accurate evidence of an inflammation as the only known factor to interfere with CRP production is liver failure.
Measuring CRP levels therefore is useful in determining how a disease is progressing, and whether or not treatments given for the disease are working. Measuring CRP requires collecting and analyzing the patient’s blood; in normal results there are is generally no CRP at all detected in the blood
A high sensitivity test may be used to check your CRP levels called an hs-CRP test; this test will pick up even trace amounts of CRP that a regular blood test would not find. In healthy persons CRP levels are less than 10 mg/L and increases slightly as one ages; higher levels are found in women during late pregnancy, in women taking oral contraceptives and in cases of mild inflammation and viral infections. Your CRP levels will tell whether you are low risk, high risk or average risk for developing heart disease.
In more recent times elevated levels of CRP have been linked to diabetes, hypertension and as said before heart disease and strokes; high levels of hs-CRP have consistently been used to predict recurrent coronary problems in patients. There are also studies which suggest that elevated levels of hs-CRP can be used to predict recurrences of strokes and peripheral artery disease.
Since increased CRP levels may be influenced by an infection or inflammation, a single measurement is not enough to predict a person’s risk of heart problems. As such diagnosing heart problems is done by doing two separate CRP tests two weeks apart and using the average number of both readings to assess a person’s likelihood of getting heart disease.
In cases of elevated CRP, it is useless to try and treat the elevated CRP in itself, the key is to treat the underlying condition that is causing the abnormal elevation and reducing the risk of heart problems. The most effective methods for reducing the risk of heart problems are regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and giving up smoking if you are a smoker. In some cases medication may be the only answer.

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