A C-reactive protein (CRP) test checks for inflammation. Your doctor may order a CRP test to monitor:

  • Coronary artery disease risk
  • Damage from a heart attack
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Some forms of arthritis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Lupus
  • Infection after surgery

CRP tests for heart disease

CRP may be a risk factor for heart disease. It's thought that as coronary arteries narrow, you'll have more CRP in your blood. A CRP test can't tell your doctor exactly where the inflammation is, though, so it's possible that a high CRP level could mean there's inflammation somewhere in your body other than your heart.

According to the American Heart Association, a CRP test is most useful for people who have an intermediate risk (a 10 to 20 percent chance) of having a heart attack within the next 10 years. This risk level, called the global risk assessment, is based on lifestyle choices, family history and current health status. People who have a low risk of having a heart attack are less likely to benefit from having a CRP test, and people who have a high risk of having a heart attack should seek treatment and preventive measures regardless of how high their CRP level is.

Aug. 16, 2013