The C-reactive protein (CRP) blood test is a laboratory test that measures the level of CRP in your blood. CRP is a protein produced by the liver in response to inflammation in the body. The test is used to detect and monitor inflammation associated with various conditions, such as infections, autoimmune disorders, and cardiovascular diseases.
Here are some key points about the CRP blood test:
- Purpose: The CRP test is primarily used to assess the presence and severity of inflammation in the body. It helps healthcare providers diagnose and monitor conditions like infections, tissue injury, autoimmune diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, lupus), inflammatory bowel disease, and cardiovascular diseases (e.g., heart attack, stroke).
- Procedure: The CRP blood test involves a simple blood test. A healthcare professional will clean your arm with an antiseptic, apply a tourniquet to make the veins more visible, and insert a needle into a vein to collect a blood sample. The sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
- CRP levels: CRP levels in the blood can vary widely depending on the presence and extent of inflammation. In healthy individuals, the CRP level is typically very low (less than 10 milligrams per liter). However, during inflammation, infection, or tissue damage, CRP levels can rise significantly. Higher levels of CRP generally indicate a greater degree of inflammation.
- Interpretation: The CRP test results are usually reported as a numerical value in milligrams per liter (mg/L). Elevated CRP levels alone do not provide a specific diagnosis but indicate the presence of inflammation. Additional tests and clinical evaluation are typically required to determine the underlying cause.
- High sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP): In addition to the standard CRP test, there is a high sensitivity CRP test (hs-CRP) that can measure lower levels of CRP. hs-CRP is used to assess the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as even slightly elevated levels of CRP in apparently healthy individuals can indicate an increased risk.
It’s important to note that the CRP test is not specific to any particular condition and needs to be interpreted alongside other clinical findings and diagnostic tests. The results should always be discussed with a healthcare professional who can provide appropriate guidance and interpretation based on your individual situation.