Q. I have been hearing that something called CRP may be more important than cholesterol when it comes to heart disease. I don’t know much about it. What are normal CRP values?
My doctor says everything’s fine and that he does not have time to “chat.” But there was an opportunity to have blood work done at my college recently and my CRP was 6.7 mg/L. Isn’t that high? Is there any way to lower CRP other than taking Crestor?
A. Recent research showed that the statin-type cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor lowered CRP and reduced cardiovascular events even in people who started with normal cholesterol (New England Journal of Medicine, Nov. 20, 2008). Before this hit the headlines, many people had never heard of CRP or C-reactive protein. This marker of inflammation should ideally be at or below 1, so yours is elevated. Many cardiologists believe that CRP above 2 calls for treatment.
Crestor can lower CRP, but it is expensive and some people experience side effects. You may be able to fight inflammation with exercise and weight loss. Supplements such as fish oil and Coenzyme Q10 may also help. Your doctor should monitor your CRP level to keep track of your progress. We are sending you our new Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health, in which we discuss CRP and offer a list of anti-inflammatory foods and non-drug approaches for heart health.