C-Reactive Protein and Heart Disease
In addition to monitoring lipid, or cholesterol levels, Mayo Clinic cardiologists have begun ordering a new screening test for heart disease risk, called high sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP, an acute phase protein made by the liver in response to inflammation, has been found to be elevated in patients who are developing diseases the blood vessels of the heart (cardiac atherosclerosis). An elevated CRP level increases the risk for creating arteriosclerosis and plaque rupture that causes heart attack.
An elevated CRP level can predict long-term risk for cardiovascular disease, (heart disease) independent of age, lipid levels, hypertension, diabetes and tobacco use. A significant number of people who develop heart disease - 10 to 15 percent - have no identifiable risk factors. Of those, a majority will have an elevated CRP. In addition to cardiology, the Mayo Clinic Executive Health Program has also begun screening for CRP levels.
A growing consensus among scientists is that common disorders such as atherosclerosis, colon cancer, and Alzheimer's disease are all caused in part by a chronic inflammatory syndrome.
Diets low in arachidonic acid, omega-6 fatty acids, saturated fats, high-glycemic food and overcooked food can reduce inflammatory factors in the body.
Editor's Note: Those who are in relative good health, but have elevated C-reactive protein, can try to lower it using a variety of diet modifications, supplements and/or drugs. Supplements such as vitamin E, borage oil, fish oil, DHEA, vitamin K and nettle leaf extract can lower C-reactive protein. Diets low in arachidonic acid, omega-6 fatty acids, saturated fats, high-glycemic food and overcooked food can suppress inflammatory factors in the body.