C-reactive protein, also known as CRP, is a protein present in the blood. Its levels are high mainly in inflammatory or infectious processes, and is usually one of the first indicators to appear in a blood test.
This protein is produced by the liver and can be used to assess the possibility of an infection, inflammatory processes and indicate a person's risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Therefore, CRP dosing is highly requested when there is suspicion of appendicitis, atherosclerosis, autoimmune diseases, and viral or bacterial infections.
This test does not pinpoint exactly what inflammation or infection the person has, but an increase in their values indicates that the body is fighting an aggressive agent, which is also reflected in the increase in leukocytes, which are the defense cells, whose concentration may be indicated on the blood count
Normal CRP values
The reference value for CRP in both men and women is up to 3.0 mg / L or 0.3 mg / dL. Regarding cardiovascular risk, the values that indicate the chance of heart disease are:
- High risk: above 3.0 mg / L;
- Medium risk: between 1.0 and 3.0 mg / L;
- Low risk: less than 1.0 mg / L.
It is important that the CRP values are between 1 and 3 mg / L. Low levels of C reactive protein can also be seen in some situations, such as in people who have had a great weight loss, exercise, drinking alcohol and using certain medications, and it is important that the physician identifies the cause.
The interpretation of the result must be done by the physician, because in order to arrive at a diagnostic conclusion, it is important that the tests be analyzed together, thus identifying the cause of the increase or decrease in CRP levels.
What is an ultra sensitive CRP test
The ultra-sensitive CRP test is ordered by your doctor when he wants to assess your risk of having cardiovascular problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. In this case the test is requested when the person is healthy, without any symptoms or apparent infection. This test is more specific and can detect minimal amounts of CRP in the blood.
If the person is apparently healthy and has high ultra-sensitive CRP values, he is at risk of developing peripheral arterial disease, or suffering from a heart attack or stroke, so you should follow an appropriate diet and exercise regularly.
What can be high CRP levels indicate
High levels of C reactive protein arise in most inflammatory and infectious processes of the human body, and may be related to several situations such as the presence of viruses, fungi, bacteria, liver problems, cardiovascular diseases, HPV, rheumatism and even cancer, for example.
In some cases, CRP values may indicate the severity of the inflammation or infection:
- Between 3.0 and 10.0 mg / L: usually indicates mild infections such as gingivitis, influenza or cold;
- Between 10.0 and 40.0 mg / L: may be a sign of more serious infections such as chicken pox or respiratory infection;
- More than 40 mg / L: usually indicates bacterial infection;
- More than 200 mg / L: may indicate septicemia, a serious situation that puts one's life at risk.
The increase in this protein may also indicate chronic diseases and so the doctor should ask for other tests to try to find out what led to their increase in blood flow, since CRP alone can not determine the disease.
What to do when you CRP levels are high
After confirming high CRP values, the physician should evaluate the outcome of the other tests requested, as well as evaluate the patient, taking into account the symptoms presented. From the moment the cause is identified, treatment can be initiated in a more targeted and specific way.
When the patient presents malaise without any other specific symptom, the doctor may request other tests, such as the dosage of tumor markers or computed tomography, for example, to verify the chance of increased CRP being cancer-related .
When CRP values are above 200 mg / L and the diagnosis of infection is confirmed. The person is usually hospitalized to receive antibiotics through the vein. The CRP values start to rise 2 days after the onset of infection and tend to decline when antibiotics are started. If after 2 days of taking antibiotics the CRP values do not decrease, it is important that the physician establishes another treatment strategy.