The C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein produced by the liver and sent to the bloodstream in response to inflammation. An individual may be asked to go for a CRP test if the healthcare provider suspects an inflammatory disorder. There are a number of conditions that may cause inflammation. While inflammation helps in fighting infections and healing wounds, chronic inflammation can be concerning as it can lead to serious health issues like cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel diseases. CRP, being an acute-phase protein, rises rapidly in the blood when there is inflammation present in the body.
What is the purpose of a CRP test?
The CRP test serves as a general marker for inflammation. It helps in finding out whether the inflammation is due to an inflammatory or non-inflammatory condition. This test, along with other tests, can help in finding out the exact cause of the medical condition.
Here are some reasons for which this test is ordered:
1. Diagnosing infections and inflammatory conditions: The test plays an important role in diagnosing a variety of infections and inflammatory diseases, including urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and appendicitis.
2. Monitoring chronic conditions: The test helps monitor disease activity in individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease. It can also be used to measure the effectiveness of the treatment.
3. Cardiovascular risk assessment: The circulating level of CRP is a vital marker for cardiovascular disease. A higher level of CRP in the blood may be associated with a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.
4. Post-surgery recovery: The CRP level is monitored after surgeries to detect any postoperative complications, like excessive inflammation.
5. Health screening: This test can also be used as a part of regular health screenings to find out inflammation which may not present with noticeable symptoms.
Preparations and procedure for the test
The test doesn’t require any special preparation as it is a simple blood test and you can eat normally on the day of the test. During the test, a nurse or healthcare professional will draw blood from a vein, typically from the inside of your elbow or the back of your hand. After cleaning the area over the vein with an antiseptic, an elastic band will be tied around your arm to make your veins slightly bulge. Now a small needle will be used to carefully collect the blood in a sterile vial. After the sample is collected, it is sent to the laboratory for further analysis.
When do you need a CRP test?
An individual may be recommended this test, if they exhibit symptoms of a severe bacterial infection, such as:
This test may also be ordered to evaluate an ongoing treatment if someone has a confirmed infection or a chronic inflammatory condition.
In conclusion, a CRP test plays an important role in evaluating inflammation within the body. If your healthcare provider suspects you of having a high level of inflammation, then this test helps identify the underlying cause. While it may not pinpoint the exact cause of inflammation, it serves as a useful tool for your doctor to aid in diagnosing your condition.