How can C-reactive protein values predict potential heart disease?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the CDC, the following guidelines are recommended for the assessment of cardiovascular risk in regards to hs-CRP levels:
Low risk for cardiovascular disease if hs-CRP is 1 milligram (mg) per liter or less
Moderate risk for cardiovascular disease if hs-CRP is between 1 and 3 mg per liter
High risk for cardiovascular disease if hs-CRP greater than 3 mg per liter
CRP level of greater than 10 mg per liter may be seen in an acute plaque rupture such as, a heart attack or stroke, provided there is no other explanation for the elevated level (other inflammatory or infectious process).
Is there a link between C-reactive protein and heart attack and stroke risk?
The elevation of CRP has also been linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease. Atherosclerosis, or cholesterol plaquing of the arteries, is known to have an inflammatory component that is thought to cause the rise in CRP levels in the blood. Atherosclerosis is also felt to be affected by age and other cardiovascular risk factors including diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking.
In atherosclerosis, the blood vessel wall becomes injured. This injury acts as focus of inflammation and leads to the formation of plaques in the blood vessel walls. The plaques typically contain blood cells of inflammation, cholesterol deposits, and debris from the injured cells in the blood vessel lining. The accumulation of these elements leads to narrowing of the wall of the blood vessel. The blood vessel narrowing can hinder the blood flow and the plaque can rupture and flake off of the blood vessel wall causing blockage and leading to strokes and heart attacks.
The burden of plaques in the body can be proportional to the degree of CRP elevation in persons with atherosclerosis. Atherosclerotic plaques can exist in different stages throughout the body. more
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