C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein that can be measured in your blood. It appears in higher amounts when there's swelling (inflammation) somewhere in your body. Your doctor may check your C-reactive protein level after surgery or treatment for infections or other medical conditions. A C-reactive protein test can also be used to evaluate your risk of developing coronary artery disease, a condition in which the arteries of your heart are narrowed. Coronary artery disease can eventually lead to a heart attack.

A C-reactive protein test to check for heart disease is not right for everyone. According to the American Heart Association, having a C-reactive protein test isn't recommended for the general population to screen for heart disease risk. And it might not be helpful in determining your heart attack risk, depending on your health and lifestyle choices.

Your C-reactive protein level can be checked with a simple blood test. Some researchers think that by treating people with high C-reactive protein levels, it's less likely they might have a heart attack or stroke.

Aug. 16, 2013