The Biomarker Handbook is a curated series that seeks to provide readers with insights on each biomarker we cover in our blood test packages and its relation to our body.
One of the biggest diseases faced by the population is heart disesase. It is often dubbed the silent killer, showing up without any forewarning or prior signs. Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation cited cardiovascular diseases to be the leading cause of death across the globe. Where it accounts for 31% of all deaths, it prompts us to consider if there is anything that can be done to prevent its spread. In fact, specifically, what if there is a biomarker that can alert us of the potential problem way before its onset? Well, enter hsCRP.
What is hsCRP?
For starters, it is a shorthand for a biomarker in our bodies – the high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP). When your body is experiencing inflammation, it produces hsCRP. As such, high levels of hsCRP is an indication of the inflammation in your body. According to recent studies, elevated levels of hsCRP can increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases like stroke.
Types of CRP (C-reactive Protein)
Produced in the liver, C-reactive protein (CRP) was discovered by William Tillet and Thomas Francis in 1930 at the Rockefeller University. They discovered that it could be isolated from pneumonia patients. It was only much later that it was discovered that alleviated levels of CRP could indicate inflammation levels in our body.
They are two types of CRP these include CRP and hsCRP. The difference between the two is the “hs” which stands for high sensitivity. CRP is measured on a scale of 3-5mg/L while hsCRP is measured on a scale that starts below the 3mg/L mark. This is simply because hsCRP is used to detect low levels of inflammation.
Testing your hsCRP levels
Identifying levels of hsCRP can be as easy as taking a simple blood test. Also, levels of HsCRP can be determined while checking cholesterol levels in the body. The results of hsCRP will indicate chances of developing cardiovascular complications such as heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. HsCRP is measured on a scale of 0-3mg
A hsCRP of less than 1mg indicates low chances of developing any heart complications. A hsCRP of 1-2.9mg indicates that chances of developing cardiovascular complications are moderate. And when hsCRP levels rise above 3mg, it indicates a high risk of developing cardiovascular complications.
If your CRP level falls in the moderate risk range of 1-2.9mg, you should start taking steps to alleviate inflammation of your body. To avoid any further complications, you should talk to your doctor about any intensive treatment available. This is especially important if you have the following factors that also tend to increase your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. These include:
- Personal health history of heart attack or stroke
- A family history of any heart-related disease or diabetes
- Cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Being male or a post-menopausal woman
- Smoking habits
- Weight increase or obesity
What to do for high hsCRP levels?
Inflammation is often due to the lifestyles we lead and especially tied to the amount of physical stress we put on our body. As such, the best way to reduce your C-Reactive protein levels is through lifestyle changes. Here are 5 quick ways you can do so:
1. Consume a wide variety of healthy anti-inflammatory foods
These include the likes of tomatoes, leafy greens, and fatty fishes such as tuna. You don’t have to give up your favourite foods at all. Rather, it is about incorporating these new ones into your diet. Plus points since this adds variety to your meals too!
2. Get your body moving and exercise
This doesn’t have to be gym routines or workouts all the time. It can be as easy as taking a 20-minute walk daily or dropping off a stop early and walking home. When you exercise you release hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine which enhances your body’s immunity and, in turn, reduces the stress placed on it. So go on, find your favourite fitness fix and keep fit on your terms.
3. Regulate your alcohol intake with a checklist
We all enjoy a bit of beer or wine after a long day and we should treat ourselves. The trick is not to cut it completely. Rather, just regulate it. Too much alcohol adds stress on your organs to process it which would, in turn, increase inflammation levels. Make it fun with checklists on your planners or note it down on your fridge.
4. Choose to leave smoking behind
Your body, your choice – indeed so. In fact, it is with that very mentality that fuels the motivation for this change. When your hsCRP levels hover around the high range, your health risks become pressing and immediate. You toe the fine line between living life on your terms and dealing with cardiovascular diseases that might just rob you of your life. It’s your body, and you get to make the best choices for it.
5. Stay in tune with your body
Your body is your best bet when it comes to making sustainable lifestyle changes. It’s great to take different advice on reducing hsCRP but how would you know if it works? You listen to it. Stay in tune with what your body is telling you by checking your hsCRP levels at least twice a year. You’ll know what works for you and find your solid ground in health doing so.
Keeping a keen eye on your hsCRP levels is important. And especially so if you want to reduce the risk of developing any cardiovascular complications. Our bodies are the best advisors when it comes to making healthy changes. And now that we are empowered with the ability to hear first hand from our bodies, let’s make the best of it shall we?
Interested in other biomarkers, check out the rest of The Biomarker Handbook.
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