C-reactive Protein (hs-CRP) Test
A blood test that measures the concentration of high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), which rises in the blood with inflammation from atherosclerosis and several other chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, is increasingly used to evaluate risk for heart disease.
Because women are more likely to have inflammatory disorders than men are, hs-CRP testing might prove to be a more meaningful predictor of heart disease in women.
Inflammation is believed to play a role in the development of heart disease, and results from a major multi-center study indicate that statin therapy reduces heart attack risk in women with high hs-CRP levels, even though they have normal cholesterol levels. There are two different tests for CRP. The standard test measures a much wider range of CRP levels, but is less sensitive in the lower ranges. The hs-CRP test can more accurately detect lower concentrations of the protein (it is more sensitive), which makes it more useful than the CRP test in predicting a healthy person’s risk for cardiovascular disease.
Who Should Have hs-CRP Testing
Recent reports from the JUPITER trial, a multi-center national study involving thousands of healthy women over 60, indicated that taking a statin, which lowers hs-CRP as well as LDL cholesterol, significantly reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke in women with normal cholesterol levels and hs-CRP levels of 2 or greater.
But that doesn’t mean that every woman should have the hs-CRP test the day she turns 60. Women who have high LDL cholesterol will probably need a statin drug regardless of their hs-CRP levels, so no test is necessary. Moreover, the American Heart Association (AHA) doesn’t recommend testing for patients whose risk of heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years is 10% or lower.
You can calculate your risk by using the AHA calculator. If your risk is greater than 10% and your cholesterol is normal, you and your doctor can determine whether an hs-CRT test would be useful for you.
Date Last Modified: January 21, 2011
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