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Don't Be in a Rush for New CRP Test Yet

Don't Be in a Rush for New CRP Test Yet

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingA new study suggests that a simple blood test could identify women at high risk of heart disease or stroke. On the healthbeat Doctor Kim Mulvihill takes a closer look at this new study to see if the test is ready for primetime.

We're talking about a blood test for CRP, or C-reactive protein. It's been in the news lately as a new risk factor for heart disease. But don't rush out and get tested, here's why.

High blood pressure is a key risk factor for heart disease. So too is C-reactive protein or CRP, which is a marker of inflammation in your body. According to a new study in the journal circulation, these two risk factors go hand in hand and together they say a lot about risk of heart disease and stroke.

Researchers tracked over 15-thousand women for eight years and found those with the highest blood pressure and highest levels of CRP had nearly eight times the risk of heart attack or stroke.

It sounds alarming, but Doctor Tom Berson with UC San Francisco's Gladstone institute says don't rush out and get tested for CRP.

Dr. Tom Bersot, Gladstone Inst.: "Right now there's no evidence that proves that knowing what your C-reactive protein level is provides you with any better indication of risk than knowing simply what your cholesterol numbers are, what your blood pressure is and not smoking and exercising and not being overweight."

Doctor Bersot says there are very few people who have a heart attack without having one of the major risk factors. So what do you do if you have a high level of C-reactive protein?

Dr. Tom Bersot, Gladstone Inst.: "No evidence that something that has been developed to lower C-reactive protein is beneficial. You should pay attention to the old garden variety risk factors, blood pressure, smoking and cholesterol, and if those are improved, your C-reactive protein concentration will decline."

The more you smoke, the higher your CRP. The higher your cholesterol, the higher your CRP. The more overweight you are, the higher your CRP. The bottom line, if you have risk factors and you have an elevated CRP, you're probably further down the road of heart disease. It's all the more reason to take things seriously and be diligent about taking care of your health.

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