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Question : My CRP was 4 in April and rose to 5 in June. My most recent LDL cholesterol was 125 mg/dL. What can I do to lower my CRP?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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May 10, 2013
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C-reactive protein (CRP) is a naturally occurring substance. It can be easy and inexpensive to measure it  in the blood. Traditionally, doctors use the test to find high levels of inflammation. With certain infections and diseases caused by inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, the CRP level can be very high. The levels can be well over 100 mg/dL.

Over the last couple decades, scientists have discovered the importance of inflammation as one of the causes of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Inflammation also increases the risk of heart attack.

The degree of inflammation that is causing hardening of the arteries does not need to be very high. Persistent low grade inflammation is enough.

Scientists found that mild rises  of CRP in otherwise healthy people were associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. To make CRP useful, a new test called hs-CRP was invented. The “hs” stands for highly sensitive.

This is what the numbers of an hs-CRP level mean:

  • Below 1.0:  low risk of heart disease
  • Between 1.0 and 3.0: average risk of heart disease
  • Over 3.0: risk of heart disease is higher than average

If your doctor has determined that your elevated CRP doesn’t have a simple explanation — and if it stays high — it might warn of an higher  risk for heart disease.

We don’t know if CRP is just a marker of increased risk of heart disease and heart attack. Or if  it plays a more direct role. For now, I tell my patients to think of it as a risk factor. Just like diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are risk factors.

Since  your cholesterol is not ideal and your CRP is high, it might make sense for you to take a statin drug. This would be even more important if you have other risk factors for heart disease.

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