Why measure CRP?
Showing normal levels of CRP, will indicate that there is no ongoing systemic inflammation in your body. Systemic, chronic inflammations, no matter the underlying reason, are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. The absence of elevated CRP levels, as in normal (low) levels, can together with other biomarkers act as a sign of a better overall health.
The measuring of CRP is frequent in every situation where inflammation takes place. This results in many various areas of use. For example, CRP can be measured for:
Quantifying inflammation response
Measuring CRP can help identify infections and determine their severity
Monitoring effectiveness of treatment for inflammatory conditions
Decreasing levels of CRP suggest a decreasing degree of inflammation
Diagnosing autoimmune diseases
Chronically increased levels of CRP can be detected through a blood test, revealing an underlying autoimmune disease
Assessing risk of cardiovascular diseases
Elevated CRP has been associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease
Important note: CRP is not a specific biomarker for any one condition. To understand the underlying cause of inflammation, further investigation and testing will be needed.
What is CRP?
CRP stands for C-reactive protein, and is a protein produced in response to inflammation. CRP is used as a marker of inflammation and has a dose response relationship, meaning that the higher the CRP, the more severe the inflammation.
What do high levels of CRP mean?
High levels of CRP indicate that there is inflammation in the body. In general, there is a dose-response interpretation of CRP, meaning that the higher the CRP, the higher the severity of the inflammation.
Elevated levels of CRP can be caused by a variety of factors, with the common denominator that inflammation is present in the body. Common causes for inflammatory responses are infections from both viruses and bacteria, activating the immune system and injuries, causing local inflammation processes. In some cases, the body misinterprets its own tissues or organs as hostile, reacting to self, causing inflammation and therefore elevated CRP levels. Examples of conditions caused by this reaction include psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes. In very rare cases, certain types of cancer can also cause an increase in CRP levels, but it is important to note that there will have to be many deviating blood test results to even raise that suspicion.
What do low levels of CRP mean?
Low levels of CRP generally mean that there is no significant inflammation in the body. This also indicates a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
What can cause a decrease in CRP levels?
There are several reasons that may help decrease CRP levels, such as:
Treatment of underlying condition
Addressing underlying cause may decrease CRP as inflammation subsides
Medications such as NSAIDs, corticosteroids and immunosuppressives can directly reduce CRP levels
Certain lifestyle changes such as weight loss and exercise have been shown to reduce inflammation and can result in decreased CRP levels
Important note: A decrease in CRP is not always equivalent to an improvement in the underlying condition. Monitoring effectiveness of treatments and lifestyle changes may need further testing and evaluation.
Normal levels: Less than 0.3 mg/dL (3 mg/L)
Seen in most healthy adults
Borderline high levels: 0,3-1,0 mg/dL (3-10 mg/L)
Often seen related to conditions including: obesity, depression, diabetes, common cold, sedentary lifestyle, cigarette smoking and pregnancy
High levels: 1,0-10mg/dL (10-100 mg/L)
Often seen in systemic inflammations such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), malignancies, myocardial infarction, pancreatitis and bronchitis.
Very high levels: More than 10 mg/dL (100 mg/L)
Acute bacterial infections, viral infections, malignancies, major trauma and systemic vasculitis