C – reactive protein
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a plasma protein which is a member of the class of acute phase reactants. It is thought to assist in complement binding to foreign and damaged cells and enhances phagocytosis by macrophages, which express a receptor for CRP. It is also believed to play an important role in innate immunity, as an early defense system against infections.
C – reactive protein and Cardiovascular Diseases
The American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a joint scientific statement in 2003 on the use of inflammatory markers in clinical and public health practice. This statement was developed after systematically reviewing the evidence of association between inflammatory markers (mainly CRP) and coronary heart disease and stroke.
C-reactive protein or CRP thus is proved to be correlated to cardiovascular disease risk. How? Inflammation (swelling) of the arteries is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. “Inflammation” is the process by which the body responds to injury or an infection. This is the process in which fatty deposits build up in the inner lining of arteries. It has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease. CRP levels rise dramatically during inflammatory processes occurring in the body. CRP is used mainly as a marker of inflammation.
Since C-reactive protein is a gauge of inflammation, a test that measures C-reactive protein is valuable. One such test is known as the high-sensitivity CRP assay (hs-CRP). Many doctors now believe that it is important to measure hs-CRP levels along with cholesterol to determine the risk of heart disease and to evaluate disease progression and prognosis in those who already have cardiovascular disease.