C-reactive protein (CRP) is a substance called a biomarker produced by the liver in response to inflammation in the body. CRP levels are considered very high if they are above 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L). However, from the heart’s point of view, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association consider levels of 2 mg/L or more as a possible risk factor for heart attacks.
Such results can indicate a variety of inflammatory conditions, from infections to arthritis. But elevated CRP is also a concern because it has been linked to an increased risk of heart problems, including heart attack.
Healthcare providers don’t check CRP as often as they do other things. Most experts discourage doing so, including the US Preventive Services Task Force.
You may be tested for CPR if your healthcare provider thinks you may have an infection or another inflammatory condition. And if you don’t have any obvious symptoms, high CRP levels can surprise you.
Read on to learn more about what causes elevated CRP levels, what your results can tell you, and what you can do to lower your levels.
What does increased CRP mean
When CRP levels remain elevated for a long time, it can be a sign of chronic inflammation of the blood vessels.
This type of low-grade inflammation contributes to the accumulation of fat and other substances in the artery walls, a condition known as atherosclerosis.
This buildup can narrow the arteries that feed the heart, causing coronary artery disease (CAD). Over time, a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure can occur.
This is true even for people with high CRP levels without obvious signs of active inflammation.
It is now well established that inflammation is an important contributor to atherosclerosis. Elevated CRP is also strongly associated with an increased risk of CAD.
What is unknown is whether CRP is real contribute to CAD directly.
Address your risk factors
Not much is known about taking steps that specifically aim to lower your CRP levels.
Likewise, it remains uncertain whether treatment specifically aimed at lowering CRP levels can reduce cardiovascular risk.
Additionally, knowing your CRP levels are elevated will encourage you to take advantage of every opportunity to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Elevated CRP levels are almost always associated with other risk factors for heart disease, consists of:
- Inactive lifestyle
- High cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- Metabolic syndrome (a combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal lipid levels, and excess belly fat)
Talk to your healthcare provider about your heart disease risk factors and what can be done to address them and your CRP levels.
This may involve changes in habits, weight loss efforts, and/or medications.
Elevated CRP is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. While it’s not certain how much a reduction in CRP on its own can help, elevated levels are an indication that you may have other risk factors that need to be addressed with aggressive measures.
Reduce CRP levels
While it’s still uncertain how important it is to reduce elevated CRP, experts have identified several ways to do it.
You don’t necessarily need to take medication to lower your CRP levels. Taking steps to make your lifestyle healthier can also help.
Ways to lower your CRP without medication include:
- Increase aerobic exercise (eg, running, brisk walking, cycling)
- Quitting smoking
- Weight loss
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
Some of these strategies may also reduce certain heart disease risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
Statins are drugs that lower cholesterol. Studies have shown that they can reduce CRP levels by 13% to 50%.
Statins can also significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in even healthy patients with high CRP levels.
Statins that have been shown to lower CRP levels and reduce heart-related risks include:
- Crestor (rosuvastatin)
- Lipitor (atorvastatin)
- Mevacor (lovastatin)
- Pravachol (pravastatin)
- Zocor (simvastatin)
If you have high CRP levels, especially if you have one or more additional risk factors for heart disease, you should discuss statin medication options with your healthcare provider.
Does aspirin help?
Aspirin does not specifically reduce CRP levels. However, daily aspirin therapy can be used as a preventative measure for heart attack and stroke, but the risks of taking aspirin for prevention may outweigh the benefits.
This may be recommended for some people with high CRP who are at higher risk of heart disease or who have experienced one of these consequences.
People with high CRP may benefit from aspirin therapy more than people with normal CRP levels.
Aspirin therapy is not for everyone. Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting a customized treatment regimen.
You can lower your CRP levels by adopting a healthy lifestyle and, if appropriate, taking a statin. These strategies can help lower your CRP levels and potentially reduce your cardiovascular risk.
Elevated CRP levels indicate inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is not only a sign of problems like infection or arthritis, but also a contributing factor to heart concerns like hardening of the arteries.
It is not yet clear whether CRP increases cardiovascular risk. It may just reflect vascular damage and inflammation caused by other risk factors.
Any elevated CRP must be taken seriously as it has been linked to conditions that affect the health of the heart and the blood supply to the rest of the body.
A very good word
If your CRP levels are elevated, you should take it as an important sign that it’s time to get serious about cutting back. all of your heart risk factors by exercising, not smoking, losing weight, watching your diet and controlling your blood pressure.
This can be a challenge, but it is necessary. Contact your health care provider and other health care professionals, such as a dietitian, for help if you need it.
frequently asked Questions
What does a high CRP level with COVID-19 mean?
High C-reactive protein (CRP) is a sign of inflammation in the body, putting you at risk for a number of disorders. Elevated CRP in COVID-19 has been linked to complications of the coronavirus, including venous thrombosis, acute kidney injury, critical illness, and death.
Is there a natural way to reduce CRP?
Statins are the usual treatment for high CRP levels. However, diet and exercise can also lower your levels. Choose anti-inflammatory foods like salmon, tuna, and plant-based proteins. Avoid processed meat, consume omega-3 fatty acids or monounsaturated fatty acids, and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
What level of CRP is dangerous for your heart?
Doctors say that a CRP level of one to three milligrams per liter puts you at moderate risk of having a heart attack. More than three milligrams per liter puts you at high risk.
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