A high sensitivity C-reactive protein (HS-CRP) test measures levels of CRP in the bloodstream. CRP is a protein that is released when inflammation is present in the body. Inflammation of the arteries is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and CRP may be a predictor of risk for heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problems. An elevated CRP may confer additional predictive value to your other cardiac risk factors.
A high sensitivity CRP test is better at assessing heart disease than a general CRP test. In either case, inflammation elsewhere in the body can be due to an infection or other illness. Results from an HS-CRP test should be considered in conjunction with symptom evaluation and the results of other tests.
How Does It Work?
Your blood will be drawn and sent to a lab for analysis. The amount of C-reactive protein in your blood will be measured. The test results will be communicated back to your physician.
How Is It Performed?
A CRP test is like any other blood test. Having blood drawn typically only takes a few minutes. You will be asked to roll up your shirt sleeve (if necessary) and the medical professional who will be drawing the blood will swab the area where the needle will be inserted with an alcohol wipe. A rubber tube may be tied around the upper part of your arm, or you may be asked to make a fist, to make the veins stand out more and easier to access.
A needle attached to a small test tube will be inserted into your vein and blood will begin to flow into the tube. When a sample that is appropriate for the test has been gathered, the needle will be removed, and you may be asked to press on a piece of gauze placed over the insertion site. This pressure will help stop any bleeding from the tiny puncture site. A bandage will then be placed over the site where the needle was inserted.
Your blood sample will then be sent to lab technicians for analysis. You will receive information when you have the blood test as to when you can expect results.
Is It Safe?
Having blood drawn by a qualified medical professional is very safe. You will experience momentary pain when the needle is inserted, and you may experience bruising at the needle insertion site after the test is complete. If you have an allergy to latex or to any adhesives, let the person know who is drawing the blood, so he or she can make any necessary adjustments.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor About C-reactive Protein Tests
The following questions can help you talk to your physician about a C-reactive protein test. Consider printing out or writing down these questions and taking them with you to your appointment. Taking notes can help you remember your physician’s response when you get home.
- Am I at high risk for heart disease?
- What will the CRP test results tell us about my cardiovascular health?
- How accurate is a CRP test?
- What comes next if the test finds inflammation?
Please print this list of questions here. Take them with you to the doctor and share them with friends and loved ones when you are encouraging them to see their doctors.