High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein

Other names: HS-CRP

C-reactive protein is a protein, which increases in the blood when the body experiences inflammation. The CRP test has been used to detect infection and inflammation in the body for many years. Atherosclerosis (the build up of fatty deposits on the inside of the arteries) is classified as an inflammatory process but does not produce high levels of CRP, so a high-sensitivity CRP test is required; this test can detect much smaller amounts of CRP than the standard CRP test.

When is the test used?

The Hs-CRP test can be used to predict a person’s risk of developing heart disease or related health conditions. CRP is not a harmful substance in the body but high levels may indicate that a patient has a high risk of developing heart problems in the future. High levels of CRP may indicate that a person has a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, even when they have low levels of fat in their blood; half of people who have heart attacks or strokes do not have high levels of fat, so this measurement may be useful.

The Hs-CRP test is usually requested as part of a series of tests, which are used to determine a patient’s risk of heart disease.

How is the test done?

The test is done by taking a sample of blood from a vein in the arm; a needle is inserted into the vein and the blood is collected in a syringe. Once the doctor or nurse has a sufficient sample, the blood will bottled, labelled with the patient’s name and sent away to the laboratory for analysis.

What do the results show?

High levels of CRP may indicate that a person has a high risk of developing heart disease; people who have high levels (in the highest quarter) are between 2 and 4 times more likely to develop atherosclerosis than those with results in the lowest quarter.

CRP levels are a marker for inflammation, so a recent injury or illness could affect the results; it is important that patients tell their doctor about any recent illnesses before the test is carried out.

Certain medications may also affect the results of the test; aspirin and pravastatin may reduce levels of CRP in the blood.

Specific Blood Tests

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