C-Reactive Protein Test: Purpose, Procedure, and Results

C-Reactive Protein is protein excreted by the human body particularly the liver as a response to bodily inflammation.

A test tube rack with blood samples

C-Reactive Protein is protein excreted by the human body particularly the liver as a response to bodily inflammation. It is also known as ultra-sensitive C-reactive protein (us-CRP) or high-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP). High levels of the said substance is an indication of inflammation and can be the result of a number of different factors such as an infection or cancer. High C-Reactive Proteins may also indicate an inflammation of the arteries and the blood vessels which increases the chances of a heart attack.

What does a High C-Reactive Protein Test Mean?

Experts and health professionals do not have a consensus yet on what it specifically means to have a high C-reactive protein test. Some physicians believe that having a high C-RP test may correlate to higher chances of a stroke or possibly a heart attack. A study indicated that a high C-reactive protein test in young adult males increases their chances of having a heart attack compared to those with a lower C-reactive protein in their blood. This, despite the fact that young adult men who previously have had no history of heart problems.

Another study indicated that women with high C-RP test results meant that the said women had a higher chance of developing various heart problems compared to those who only had increased cholesterol levels. African Americans were also more likely to contract acquired diabetes if they do get a high C-Reactive Protein Test result.  More recent research has also cited high C-Reactive Protein Test results as a possible risk factor in developing COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Health professionals can also use the results of the C-Reactive Protein test to check for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis.

The Relationship between C-RP Heart Disease

In 2013, the respected American Health organization concluded that persons with high C-RP levels, specifically those with levels higher than or around 2 milligrams per liter (mg/L) will likely require more comprehensive management of heart disease. In addition, individuals with high C-reactive protein may require more medical attention after a heart attack or other heart procedures such as heart surgery.

C-Reactive Protein Test results may also aid in giving a more complete picture of an individual’s possible heart health issues compared to just having increased cholesterol levels. C-Reactive protein may be an effective test to check for possible risk of heart disease which may further be exacerbated by certain health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, increased cholesterol, continued consumption of cigarettes, an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, excessive consumption of alcohol and being morbidly obese or overweight. Genetics may also play a role in increasing an individual’s risk of developing heart disease as those with family members that already have heart disease are more at risk for developing the said condition.

How is the C-Reactive Test Administered and are there Risks?

The C-Reactive test has no special requirements on the diet before being administered and patients who are about to undergo the said test may eat before or after the procedure. The C-Reactive Test starts with a medical professional cleaning the skin where the blood will be extracted with an antiseptic solution. He/She then wraps the patient’s limb with a stretchable band to make the vein pop out or bulge for easier blood extraction.

The health professional then inserts a needle and draws blood, usually at the back of the patient’s hand or inside his/her elbow. Once the blood is collected, the health professional will then place the blood into a sterile vial, detach the stretchable band from the patient’s limb and cover the extraction wound with a small gauze or bandage, advising the patient to press down on the cotton gauze or bandage to prevent the extraction wound from bleeding.

The C-Reactive Protein Test is considered a standard test and usually have minimal risks or complications. Some of the risks include:

  • Too much bleeding
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Infection or bruising at the site of blood extraction.

What Do the C-Reactive Protein Test Results Mean?

Testing for C-RP is usually measured in the standard mg/L or milligrams of CRP per liter of blood. Generally speaking, having a lower C-RP is ideal and better than having an elevated one

According to US Clinic, a reading that is below 1 mg/L means that a patient is at a lower risk for developing certain heart disease. A score of 1 to 2.9 mg/L  means an individual is at risk within the intermediate range of developing cardiovascular disease or heart problems. A reading that is higher or above 3 mg/L means a patient is at a risk level that considered high in terms of developing cardiovascular disease.

A C-Protein Test Result that is above 10 mg/L means that the patient requires additional tests or verification from a medical professional as it may mean abnormally high levels of bodily inflammation caused by a number of different factors. This includes as autoimmune arthritis, osteomyelitis or bone infection, IBD, flare-up, tuberculosis, lupus, and other autoimmune diseases, lymphoma which is a type of cancer, pneumonia, and other infections. Increased levels of C-RP in pregnant women may indicate complications and close monitoring of the pregnant patient may be necessary.

Some Considerations Before Undergoing the C-RP Test

Talk to your doctors or healthcare partners first before undergoing the C-RP Test for any possible health conditions that may affect the outcome of the result.  Patients should also consider the possibility that the C-Reactive Test may not be the best blood test for their specific health condition and based on the person’s risk factors. Doctors may recommend other tests such as an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram (EKG), Coronary Artery CT Scans, stress test,  and heart catheterization.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *