C-reactive protein (CRP) is a substance made by the liver and secreted into the bloodstream, increasing when inflammation is present. Inflammation plays a role in the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis, the chief underlying cause of Myocardial Infarction (MI). High CRP levels have been associated with an increased risk of future heart attacks, ischemic stroke, and peripheral arterial disease. However, the level of CRP in the blood is normally so low that an especially sensitive test is needed to measure it. This test is called high-sensitivity CRP or hs-CRP.

hs-CRP, a sensitive marker of systemic inflammation, has emerged as a powerful predictor of cardiovascular diseases, particularly of coronary heart disease. However, there is no clear consensus as to whether a single screening test for CRP is useful as a diagnostic tool. The diagnostic value of CRP screening can be improved by performing two tests a month apart and by including both CRP and the cholesterol level ratio (TC/HDL) in the final risk assessment.

hs-CRP helps identify patients at risk of first MI even with low-to-moderate risk lipid levels. Cholesterol screening fails to identify almost one-half of the 1.3 million individuals who develop MI. Adding hs-CRP to standard lipid screening significantly improves risk prediction.

Studies have shown that the combination of hs-CRP with the Total Cholesterol: HDL-Cholesterol ratio is the strongest independent predictor of peripheral artery disease. It reveals risk of future myocardial infarction and stroke among apparently healthy men and women, independent of traditional risk factors. hs-CRP appears to be an excellent marker of persistent plaque instability. Recent evidence has shown that hs-CRP can help assess risk in patients with unstable angina.

Elevated hs-CRP has been found to be a powerful independent risk determinant in the prediction of incident diabetes. Presence of elevated hs-CRP supports a possible role for inflammation in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

The hs-CRP test measures your risk for heart or vascular problems:

  • Less than 1.0 mg/L – Lowest risk
  • 1.0 to 3.0 mg/L – Average risk
  • Greater than 3.0 mg/L – Highest risk

Disclaimer: This is only general information. A doctor should be contacted if you need any medical advice or if medical decisions need to be made.