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C-Reactive Protein (CRP) Test - A Key Indicator of Heart Disease Risk
Posted: Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Mayo Clinic Cardiologists indicate CRP is a complement to cholesterol testing and can provide information which will allow treatment of inflammation of blood vessels of the heart, much earlier.
(CRP). CRP, an acute phase protein made by the liver in response to inflammation, has been found to be elevated in patients who are developing diseases the blood vessels of the heart (cardiac atherosclerosis).
An elevated CRP level can predict long-term risk for cardiovascular disease, independent of age, lipid levels, hypertension, diabetes and tobacco use. A significant number of people who develop heart disease - 10 to 15 percent - have no identifiable risk factors. Of those, a majority will have an elevated CRP. In addition to cardiology, the Mayo Clinic Executive Health Program has also begun screening for CRP levels.
"In cardiology, the future of bringing health care costs down is prevention," says Christopher Appleton, M.D., professor of medicine and chair of Cardiovascular Diseases at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. "We are looking to identify those patients without the obvious risk factors, who still develop heart disease. An elevated CRP indicating chronic inflammation appears to be a warning flag even when cholesterol levels appear relatively normal."
Elevated CRP levels are not always related to heart attack risk. CRP may be temporarily elevated due to an infection or chronically increased in conditions such as arthritis. Therefore, when a high CRP level is reported, a repeat test should be taken in another two weeks.
For those with an unexplained elevated CRP, dietary and exercise modifications can lower the level. In some patients, the presence of an elevated CRP level, in conjunction with other indicators of cardiovascular disease can guide treatment in terms of medication, especially cholesterol lowering medicines.
"It's important that people know this indicator exists," says Dr. Appleton. "Everyone knows about cholesterol and its relationship to heart disease risk. Coronary artery disease is an inflammatory condition. Therefore, keeping an eye on both the risk for inflammation and for developing plaque in the arteries is critical to helping us identify, prevent and treat cardiovascular disease."
Source: Diabetes In Control.com
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