Inflammation and Heart Disease


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Studies show that people who have had a heart attack, only 50 percent had high “bad cholesterol” levels. But another blood test could help determine your chance of having a heart disease.

Health expert, Karen Owoc explains that a recent study revealed that people with an elevated level of C-reactive protein (CRP) in their blood were 3X more likely to have a heart attack.

C-reactive protein is made by the liver and found in blood plasma. CRP levels rise in response to inflammation (or swelling) somewhere in the body.

Arteries can become damaged and thus, inflamed when LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) lines the inner walls of the blood vessels. The liver releases proteins (CRP) to try to heal the damage. 

When arteries are inflamed, you are a risk for the following increase:

• Heart disease

• Heart attack

• Stroke

• Peripheral arterial disease

CRP is becoming an emerging and better indicator of cardiovascular disease (CVD) than the lipid panel (test for LDL).

CRP is a test for systemic inflammation and NOT a test for cardiovascular disease.

To check for heart disease, a variation of the CRP test (the high-sensitivity CRP or hs-CRP) can be used.

Who Should Test

1. If you’re at a moderate risk for cardiovascular disease (10% to 20% chance of having a heart attack within the next 10 years), it may be helpful to have your CRP level tested, so your doctor can intervene.

2. Men age 50 and younger; or women age 60 and younger with moderate risk.

3. Men age 50 and older; or women age 60 and older with no CVD, diabetes, kidney disease or inflammatory conditions

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