A C-reactive protein is a blood test that measures the level of C-Reactive Protein (CRP) in the blood. CRP is a type of protein produced by the liver. The protein is then transported into the bloodstream in response to inflammation. Inflammation is a defense mechanism by which the body protects tissues at the time of injury or infection. The signs of inflammation include pain, redness, and swelling in the injured or affected area.
CRP is a non-specific indicator or sign of inflammation and it is considered as one of the most sensitive acute phase reactants. This means that it can be released into the blood within a few hours after an injury or at the start of an infection.
The CRP test is not a diagnostic test. It only provides information to the doctor or healthcare provider whether any inflammation is present in the body. The test does not identify the location of the inflammation. This information can be used along with other factors such as signs and symptoms, physical examination, and other tests to determine if an individual has an acute inflammatory condition or experiencing a rise of chronic inflammatory disease.
A CRP test is used to analyze or monitor conditions that can cause inflammation. These conditions may include:
Inflammatory bowel disease that causes swelling or bleeding in the intestines
Some other uses of the CRP test include:
An individual may need this test if they experience symptoms of a serious bacterial infection. These symptoms include:
If someone has already been diagnosed with an infection or has a chronic disease, this test may be used to monitor treatment. The rise and fall of CRP levels depend on how much inflammation a person has.
[Always consult your physician before any test or diagnosis]
A health care professional or phlebotomist will take a blood sample from a vein in the arm, with the help of a small needle. A small amount of blood will be withdrawn into a test tube or vial. An individual may feel a slight prick when the needle is inserted in or withdrawn out. The process usually takes less than five minutes.
The CRP test requires no special preparation.
Normally, the level of CRP in the blood is low. If the result shows a high level of CRP, it may mean there is an inflammation in the body. However, it does not explain the specific location of the inflammation and what is causing it.
An increased amount of CRP in the blood suggests the presence of inflammation, but the test will not identify its source or the cause.
A high CRP level can provide confirmation that an individual has a serious bacterial infection.
The rise in the levels of CRP may indicate that someone has a chronic inflammatory disease or that their treatment has not been effective.
[Each situation may be different. Always consult your physician before any diagnosis.]
A CRP test can be helpful in analyzing a person’s risk of heart disease, especially in combination with high cholesterol levels. This is because of the inflammatory component of atherosclerosis and certain studies show that elevated CRP levels have been linked with cardiovascular disease. The risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated blood cholesterol, age, obesity, smoking, and any family history of heart disease, can be correlated with an elevated CRP level. However, other related tests may be required.
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