What is C-reactive Protein (CRP)?
C-reactive Protein is a substance produced by the liver to heal inflammation in the body. It is one of the proteins in the body referred to as ‘acute phase reactants’. The body releases these reactants to heal the inflammation, which is the body’s way of protecting tissues in case of an injury or infection. Inflammation increases the level of C-reactive protein in the bloodstream, and the CRP test means measuring that level. The test helps in finding out the risks of heart attack, stroke, and other severe conditions caused by inflammation. However, the test does not detect where the inflammation is in the body.
What are the symptoms and causes of high CRP levels?
Given below are the causes of high CRP level, followed by the symptoms when someone is CRP test positive:
Different conditions may cause a high level of CRP, which include:
- Autoimmune arthritis
- Bacterial and fungal infections
- Infections of joints
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Inflammation in the blood vessels
- Clots or plaques in arteries of the heart
Symptoms of a high level of CRP
The symptoms of elevated CRP levels depend upon the condition causing the inflammation. Following are some of the common symptoms:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Exhaustion and weakness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle stiffness, soreness, and headache
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Increased heart rate
- Sweating, chills and shaking
- Parched lips and skin
Why is the CRP test done?
The doctor might suggest a CRP test to check for inflammation after analysing the cause of inflammation, medical history, and lifestyle of a person. People who have 5 to 10% chances of a heart attack in the coming 10 years are generally sent for CRP blood tests.
Similarly, people with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, chronic inflammatory disease, active rheumatic fever and dyslipidemia are also tested for CRP. These conditions raise the CRP level in the bloodstream which may increase the risk of heart disease.
What does a high CRP level mean?
The test result varies, depending upon age, gender, health history, and the method used for the test. A high CRP level may be moderately or dangerously elevated. The C-reactive protein level between 10mg/L and 100mg/L is considered moderately high, and that above 100mg/L is considered dangerously high. The higher the CRP level, the higher is the risk of cardiovascular conditions.
What is a good or normal CRP level?
The CRP level rises in the bloodstream as the body develops an inflammation due to any injury or infection. Values less than 10 milligrams per litre (10mg/L), is considered C-reactive protein normal range.
How much CRP level is dangerous?
High CRP levels of more than 350 milligrams per litre (mg/L) are considered dangerous. The dangerous CRP level is a sign of a serious underlying medical condition and means a higher risk of heart attack, cardiovascular diseases, or stroke.
What is the treatment for high C-reactive Protein blood levels?
There are different reasons for high C-reactive protein levels in the blood; and therefore, doctors advise treating it depending upon its cause. Some of the common treatments include:
- Diet – A healthy diet generally helps the body in boosting immunity and fighting various medical conditions. Similarly, including vitamin C and probiotics in the diet have been found beneficial in lowering the CRP level.
- Exercise – Exercising regularly as permitted by the doctor helps maintain a healthy blood flow that also reduces the CRP levels in the bloodstream. It also keeps the muscles and joints healthy keeping away various infections that might cause inflammation.
- Say no to tobacco – Tobacco and cigarette smoking causes inflammation of tissues, eventually rising the CRP levels. Therefore, staying away from tobacco also helps in reducing the CRP levels.