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What does high CRP (C-Reactive Protein) indicate?

February 02, 2023 | Abigail Mckay

CRP is a protein that rises in response to inflammation. A high level of CRP in the blood is a sign of inflammation and may be caused by infections, injuries, autoimmune diseases, or cancer. If you have a high CRP, it's important to talk with your doctor to determine the cause, get treatment if needed, and reduce any associated risks.  C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is produced by the liver, and its concentrations double approximately every two hours during an infection or acute phase reaction. It’s generally accepted as a marker of systemic inflammation, but it can also be elevated due to tissue injury (including skeletal muscle injury from exercise) or other causes such as obesity, smoking, nephrotic syndrome from renal dysfunction, pregnancy, CHF (congestive heart failure), and some malignancies. Cancer cells produce large amounts of this protein, leading to tumor growth and metastases. Chronic low-level elevation of c-reactive protein (CRP), even within the “normal” range, has been associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that maintaining CRP levels within a healthy range can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. This blog post will explore what high levels of CRP might indicate and why it’s important to talk with your doctor about any concerns.

CRP is a protein produced by the liver in response to inflammation

CRP, or C-reactive protein, is a biomarker produced by the liver linked to signs of inflammation in the body. When our bodies experience an injury or infection, the liver responds by producing CRP, which can then be measured as an indicator of disease activity. Monitoring CRP levels for those with chronic inflammatory conditions can help pinpoint when treatment should be adjusted to reduce inflammation and related symptoms. Though it’s important to recognize that elevated CRP doesn’t necessarily mean a person is ill, it can be an important tool for identifying when intervention may help manage imbalances in health.

High CRP levels can indicate various conditions, such as infection, autoimmune disease, or cancer

C Reactive Protein (CRP) is a blood test that measures an individual's inflammation levels. Those with higher-than-normal CRP levels may be experiencing an underlying condition such as infection, autoimmune disease, or cancer. High CRP levels can indicate these conditions' presence, but further diagnostic evaluation is needed to confirm the underlying cause. The American Academy of Family Physicians advises that anyone showing signs and symptoms of infection should get their CRP level tested to ensure a prompt and accurate diagnosis. It's important to rule out any potential health problems since early detection can improve patients' health outcomes and quality of life. It's also important to note that high CRP levels can sometimes signify nothing and are not always linked to an underlying problem. Therefore, CRP levels should be interpreted in conjunction with a comprehensive clinical assessment. 

CRP levels can also be affected by lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise

When considering the factors that affect C-Reactive Protein levels, it is important to consider lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise. Eating a balanced diet with adequate fruit and vegetable intake can help manage CRP levels. Studies have shown that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help reduce inflammation and lower CRP levels. Additionally, regular physical activity can be beneficial for reducing inflammation, which can contribute to higher CRP levels. Engaging in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 150 minutes per week has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. While genetics certainly play a role in personal health, you can take ownership of your wellness by making positive lifestyle choices tailored to your needs. However, consulting with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized dietary and exercise recommendations is important. 

What is the difference between CRP And Hs-CRP test?

C Reactive Protein (CRP) is a protein found in our blood that can be used to indicate the presence of inflammation. When it is at elevated levels, it can be an indicator of infection or disease. The main difference between CRP and High-Sensitivity C Reactive Protein (Hs-CRP) tests is the sensitivity each test offers regarding identifying inflammation. CRP tests measure larger amounts of this protein, so they will easily detect more sizable levels of inflammation, but Hs-CRP tests are far better at detecting small amounts of CRP. These smaller levels can become an important predictor for events like cardiovascular disease, even before symptoms become visible. Therefore, a Hs-CRP test can provide an earlier warning of potential problems, enabling medical professionals to offer proactive care when necessary. The choice between CRP and Hs-CRP tests depends on the specific clinical context and the level of sensitivity required for detection. 

There are many treatments available for conditions that cause high CRP levels

High levels of C Reactive Protein can cause a variety of uncomfortable and potentially serious health issues. Fortunately, many great treatments are available that can help reduce the levels of this protein if they become too elevated. These treatments include lifestyle changes such as healthier eating habits, exercise, or weight loss - depending on what works best for the individual - and medications like statins or anti-inflammatory drugs, which target and reduce specific proteins. Treatment plans should be individualized based on the underlying cause and the patient's overall health.  With proper diagnosis and management of CRP levels, it is possible to reduce the risk of more serious conditions that could be exacerbated by having high CRP levels in the future. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional for appropriate treatment options based on the underlying condition. 

If you have high CRP levels, you must talk to your doctor to find the cause. A healthcare professional can evaluate your CRP levels in the context of your symptoms and medical history to determine the underlying cause.  There are many treatments available for conditions that cause high CRP levels. You can also make lifestyle changes to lower your CRP levels. Lifestyle changes may include adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and managing stress.   CRP test is available on Cura4U from Quest Diagnostics and Bio-Reference, at affordable prices with a home sampling facility. You can always talk to a Cura4U Physician to know if you need your CRP checked. Consulting with a healthcare professional is essential for personalized guidance and interpretation of CRP levels.

 

Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr. Saad Zia on June 13th, 2023.

 

References

C-Reactive Protein (CRP) Test: MedlinePlus Medical Test- https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/c-reactive-protein-crp-test/

C-reactive protein test - Mayo Clinic- https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/c-reactive-protein-test/about/pac-20385228

C Reactive Protein - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441843/

Role of C-Reactive Protein at Sites of Inflammation and Infection - PMC (nih.gov)- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5908901/

Elevated C-Reactive Protein Levels in Overweight and Obese Adults | Obesity | JAMA | JAMA Network- https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/192183

 

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