What to Do When Your CRP Is High

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a substance known as a biomarker that is produced by the liver in response to inflammation in the body. CRP levels are considered high if they are above 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L).

Such results can indicate a variety of inflammatory conditions, from infection to arthritis. But elevated CRP is also a concern because it is associated with an increased risk of heart issues, including heart attack.

Doctor talking to patient.
PeopleImages/E+/Getty Images

Healthcare providers don't routinely test CRP like they do other things. Most experts do not recommend doing so, including the United States Preventive Services Task Force.

You may have your CPR levels checked if your healthcare provider thinks you could have an infection or another inflammation-causing condition. And if you don't have any obvious symptoms, a high CRP level might take you by surprise.

Read on to learn more about what causes elevated CRP levels, what your results can tell you, and what you can do to lower your levels.

What Elevated CRP Levels Mean

When CRP levels remain elevated for a long time, it can be an indication that chronic inflammation of the blood vessels is present.

This type of low-grade inflammation contributes to the deposit of fat and other substances in the artery walls, a condition called atherosclerosis.

This build-up can narrow the arteries that feed the heart blood, causing coronary artery disease (CAD). Over time, heart attack, stroke, or heart failure can occur.

This is true even for those with elevated CRP levels who have no obvious signs of active inflammation.

It is now well-established that inflammation is an important contributor to atherosclerosis. Elevated CRP is also firmly associated with an increased risk of CAD.

What is not known is whether CRP itself actually contributes to CAD directly.

Addressing Your Risk Factors

It is not known now much it helps to take steps aimed specifically at reducing your CRP levels.

Likewise, it is uncertain whether treatment aimed specifically at lowering CRP levels can reduce cardiovascular risk.

That aside, knowing your CRP levels are elevated should encourage you to take every opportunity to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Elevated CRP levels are almost always associated with other risk factors for heart disease, including:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome (a combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal lipid levels, and excess abdominal fat)

Talk to your healthcare provider about your heart disease risk factors and what can be done to address them and your CRP levels.

This may involve habit changes, weight loss efforts, and/or medication.

Recap

Elevated CRP is associated with increased risk of heart disease. While it's uncertain how much reducing CRP itself can help, elevated levels are a sign that you likely have other risk factors that need to be addressed with aggressive measures.

Reducing CRP Levels

While it is still uncertain how important it is to reduce elevated CRP, experts have identified several ways of doing so.

Lifestyle Changes

You don't necessarily need medicine to lower your levels of CRP. Taking steps to make your lifestyle healthier can also help.

Ways to reduce your CRP without drugs include:

  • Increasing your aerobic exercise (e.g, running, fast walking, cycling)
  • Quitting smoking
  • Losing weight
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet

Some of these strategies can also reduce certain heart disease risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.

Statins

Statins are drugs that lower cholesterol. Studies have shown that they can reduce CRP levels by 13% to 50%.

They can also substantially reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in even healthy-appearing patients whose CRP levels are high.

Statins shown to bring down CRP levels and reduce related cardiac risks include:

  • Crestor (rosuvastatin)
  • Lipitor (atorvastatin)
  • Mevacor (lovastatin)
  • Pravachol (pravastatin)
  • Zocor (simvastatin)

If you have high CRP levels, especially if you have one or more additional risk factors for heart disease, you should discuss the option of taking a statin drug with your healthcare provider.

Does Aspirin Help?

Aspirin does not specifically reduce levels of CRP. However, daily aspirin therapy can be used as a heart attack and stroke prevention measure.

This may be recommended for some people with elevated CRP who are at a higher risk of heart disease or who have already experienced one of these consequences.

Those with elevated CRP may benefit from aspirin therapy more than people whose CRP levels are normal.

Aspirin therapy isn't for everyone. Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting an aspiring regimen.

Recap

You can lower your CRP levels by adopting a healthy lifestyle and, if appropriate, taking a statin. These strategies can help lower your CRP levels and potentially reduce your cardiovascular risk.

Summary

Elevated CRP levels indicate there is inflammation in the body.

Inflammation cannot only be an indicator of issues like an infection or arthritis, but a contributing factor for heart concerns like hardening of the arteries.

It remains unknown whether CRP itself increases cardiovascular risk. It could be that it merely reflects the vascular injury and inflammation that results from other risk factors.

Regardless, elevated CRP must be taken seriously as it is associated with conditions that affect the health of your heart and the supply of blood to the rest of your body.

A Word From Verywell

If your CRP levels are elevated, you should take that as an important sign that it is time to get serious about reducing all your cardiac risk factors by exercising, not smoking, losing weight, watching your diet, and controlling your blood pressure.

This can be challenging, but it is necessary. Reach out to your healthcare provider and additional healthcare professionals, such as a registered dietitian, for help if you need it.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mayo Clinic. C-reactive protein test.

  2. Calza L, Trapani F, Bartoletti M, et al. Statin therapy decreases serum levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor-α in HIV-infected patients treated with ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitors. HIV Clin Trials. 2012;13(3):153-61. doi:10.1310/hct1303-153

  3. American Heart Association. Aspirin and heart disease. Reviewed March 20, 2019.

Additional Reading
  • Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration, Kaptoge S, Di Angelantonio E, et al. C-reactive Protein Concentration and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Mortality: an Individual Participant Meta-analysis. Lancet 2010; 375:132.

  • Hingorani AD, Sofat R, Morris RW, et al. Is It Important To Measure Or Reduce C-Reactive Protein In People At Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease? Eur Heart J 2012; 33:2258.

  • Ridker PM, Danielson E, Fonseca FA et al. Rosuvastatin to Prevent Vascular Events in Men and Women with Elevated C-reactive Protein. New Engl J Med 2008; doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0807646

  • Sever PS, Poulter NR, Chang CL, et al. Evaluation of C-reactive Protein Prior to and On-treatment as a Predictor of Benefit from Atorvastatin: Observations from the Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial. Eur Heart J 2012; 33:486.

  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Curry SJ, Krist AH, et al. Risk Assessment for Cardiovascular Disease With Nontraditional Risk Factors: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA 2018; 320:272.