You will notice that even your doctor is not very satisfied with just the cholesterol levels. Increasingly, another marker is being used for risk of cardiovascular disease.
Have you heard of the CRP test? It expands to C-reactive protein test. What exactly is this C-reactive protein? CRP is produced in the liver and is classified as an acute phase reactant, indicating that its levels will rise in response to inflammation anywhere in the body.
Then what is the connection of CRP to cardiovascular disease?
Inflammation, that increases CRP levels, teams up with LDB (bad cholesterol) to break off the plaque that accumulates in the blood vessel walls. These tiny pieces then travel to the heart and the brain through the bloodstream and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
High LBD levels increase the plaque on blood vessels and impede the blood flow, thereby increasing the chances of a heart attack. High CRP levels are now believed to be equally damaging. People with high levels of CRP carry double the risk of an attack.
So what are high CRP levels? And how are they measured?
CRP levels are measured by taking a blood sample. One such test is high-sensitivity CRP assay (hs-CRP). Patients with hs-CRP levels under 1.0 mg/L carry a low risk of developing heart disease while levels between 1.0 mg/L and 3.0 mg/L are associated with an average risk. But if one has hs-CRP levels over 3.0 mg/L he or she carries a high risk for cardiovascular disease.
Most doctors are now veering around to the idea that measuring CRP levels and taking them into consideration, along with cholesterol levels, is important in determining risk of cardiovascular disease and helps in checking the progress and prognosis of the disease in those who are already afflicted.
In cases of extremely high CRP levels in people with inflammatory diseases or those who have severe inflammation, the prognostic value of the same as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease is not perfect. But if prevention is better than cure, it is always better to take CRP as a marker of risk for cardiovascular disease in people with little or no inflammation.
image courtesy: MediFee.com