Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"When are C-reactive protein tests performed?"
My doctor did a C-reactive protein test on me today. Why was this necessary? I am a 32 year old male.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein that is present in the blood and non-specific test for inflammation, meaning it can be elevated for a variety of reasons. CRP can be elevated both due to acute illnesses such as viral or bacterial infections or in chronic illnesses such autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or even cancer. A slightly different form of the test called high-sensitivity CRP (hsCRP) has become popular of late due to a study that suggests it is a good test to help in the determination of who might benefit from certain medications like statins (lipitor, crestor, zocor, etc.). The JUPITER study looked at a group of asymptomatic (without complaints) individuals in many countries and randomized those with elevated levels of hsCRP to either take a statin or a placebo. The study was stopped early because of how different the two groups did. Those receiving a statin had many fewer heart attacks, strokes, or deaths during the study period. Despite these results the study has been controversial and routine screening for hsCRP is not currently standard across the country. So to answer your question requires a bit more information. If your doctor is performing the test and you feel otherwise healthy he or she may be considering this study. However, sometimes doctors will perform this test when patients have complaints and they are unsure if the symptoms represent underlying inflammation or another process. Finally, sometimes physicians use the test to follow levels of inflammation and disease activity in patients with known autoimmune diseases. Your primary care physician can best discuss your results and explain how they apply to your current health. Good luck!
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