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C-Reactive Protein (CRP) and Inflammation

Having a high C-Reactive Protein increases your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke by twice as much as having a high cholesterol. C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is a blood test that measures inflammation, part of the immune reaction that protects you from infection when you injure yourself. It causes redness, pain and swelling, and can damage the inner lining of arteries, and break off clots from arteries to block the flow of blood to cause strokes and heart attacks.

CRP levels fluctuate from day to day, and levels increase with aging, high blood pressure, alcohol use, smoking, low levels of physical activity, chronic fatigue, coffee consumption, having elevated triglycerides, insulin resistance or diabetes, taking estrogen, eating a high protein diet, and suffering sleep disturbances, or depression. If you have none of these known causes, at this time the best ways we know to reduce CRP levels are exercise and a diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids. Statins appear to protect against inflammation as well as to lower cholesterol, but they can cause muscle pain in exercisers.

IF YOU HAVE A HIGH CRP, try to correct the known causes: infection, high blood pressure, alcohol use, smoking, low levels of physical activity, chronic fatigue, coffee consumption, having elevated triglycerides, insulin resistance or diabetes, taking estrogen, eating a high protein diet, and suffering sleep disturbances, or depression.

The most common cause of an elevated CRP is infection. If you have burning on urination, getting up in the night to urinate, urgency when your bladder is full of a feeling that you have to urinate all the time, check for a urinary tract infection. If you have wheezing and a chronic cough or shortness of breath, check for a lung infection. If you have belching and burning in your stomach, get an upper GI series X ray and blood test for Helicobacter. If you have diarrhea, check for an intestinal infection. If you have any of these infections, you have an accepted reason to take antibiotics. Your evaluation should include IGG and IGM antibody blood tests for chlamydia and mycoplasma. If either or both titres are high, I usually recommend taking doxycycline 100 mg twice a day for at least three weeks. Most doctors will not do this because they feel that data aren't strong enough to warrant antibiotics at this time.

Checked 1/22/16

May 19th, 2014
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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