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C Reactive Protein

As the war against the leading cause of death for Americans, heart disease, goes on, new tools are being developed to recognize high risk individuals.The symptoms of coronary heart disease --chest pain, shortness of breath, and an abnormal pulse --are difficult to diagnose as they vary from patient to patient. Also, these are symptoms that can point to a variety of other medical conditions.

The good news is that a variety of simple diagnostic methods may identify coronary heart disease before it becomes life threatening. Recently doctors have found that the presence of a substance called C-Reactive Protein in the blood indicates that blood vessels are inflamed. The body releases C-Reactive protein into the bloodstream when blood vessels leading to the heart are damaged.

What we know about C-Reactive Protein and Heart Disease
  1. Testing for this protein adds to the predictive value of screening blood samples for both total and HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
  2. C-Reactive protein testing may improve doctors' ability to predict heart disease risk.
  3. The higher the concentration of C-Reactive protein, the more likely the chances to have a heart attack or stroke.
  4. The protein's level indicates the degree of inflammation occurring in the lining of the arteries.
  5. C-Reactive protein levels predict coronary events even among otherwise low-risk patients.
  6. Half of all heart attack victims have normal cholesterol levels and normal blood pressure levels.
  7. C-Reactive protein is a substance found in the liver when arteries are inflamed.
  8. C-Reactive protein testing is becoming one of the newer markers for people at risk for heart disease.
  9. Elevated C-Reactive protein (CRP) levels have now been validated as an independent risk factor for coronary artery disease.
There is no cure for coronary heart disease. However, proper treatment can slow or even halt the progression of atherosclerosis so that the coronary arteries do not become further narrowed. Treatment can also help reduce the risk of a heart attack in people who have coronary heart disease. The first step in fighting coronary heart disease is to make lifestyle changes to reduce risk factors. Doctors recommend that heart patients eat a low-fat diet and keep their blood cholesterol low. Most physicians believe LDL should be less than 100 mg/dl for patients with coronary heart disease. Patients are also encouraged to quit smoking, exercise regularly, and control high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus through diet or medication.


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