With the recent passing of Raju Srivastav following a long battle for health who suffered a heart attack in his gym, and many other celebrities we have lost to heart attacks in the past couple of years, the paranoia over heart health it is at its peak. Until a few years ago we believed that someone who was physically fit and exercised regularly would have good heart health, but the line seems to blur. Most of the celebrities who made headlines for their untimely deaths were fit, healthy, and exercising regularly. So is there a way to determine your heart attack risk? There appears to be a blood test that may indicate heart problems. The test is called Cardio – C reactive protein (hs CRP). Keep in mind that a one-time reading may not provide a clear picture of heart risk, but persistent high readings can tell you it’s time to see a doctor and take necessary action.

What is the cardio C-reactive protein (hs CRP) test?

Cardio C-reactive protein also known as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs CRP) is a simple blood test. According to Dr. Bikram Kesharee Mohanty, cardio-thoracic consultant and vascular surgeon (adult and pediatric), visiting consultant at the National Heart Institute, “PCR or standard PCR is an inflammatory marker, which means that whenever there is a infection anywhere in the body, the CRP level in the blood is increased, hs CRP is more sensitive than standard CRP. In an otherwise healthy human being, if the hs CRP level is high, it is an indicator or alarm that the individual is more likely to have blockages in the arteries of the heart, heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest, stroke or arterial blockages of the arms and legs in the future ”.

Dr. Vivek Chaturvedi, Professor and HOD, Cardiology, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad further adds: “Cardio C-reactive protein or HSCRP is a test that has recently become popular and is available as part of various investigation packages. It is a marker. of chronic or long-lasting low-level inflammation. Inflammation is a reaction of our body against infections, stress, some autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis etc. When after an insect bite we see red spots forming on our skin , this is due to inflammation. Inflammation is appropriate in the short term, but can be harmful to our body if present for a longer duration. A long-standing low level of inflammation in the heart has been linked to increased heart rates. heart attack problems, sudden death and the need for angioplasty or bypass, etc. It has been found that people who have persistently high hsCRP are at higher risk of heart disease po as compared to those who do not have a high hsCRP.

It further states: “Cardio reactive protein C or hsCRP is only part of the puzzle that is heart health. It should not be considered in isolation. Some studies have found that high levels of hsCRP increase risk even in the absence of other risk factors. of heart disease, but this is still controversial. However, we are quite confident that the risk due to other heart disease risk factors (such as high blood pressure, diabetes) increases even more in the presence of an increase in hsCRP. It is very important Remember that any recent infection can cause an increase in CRP and hsCRP for several weeks. Hence, it cannot be interpreted if you have had a recent infection or if you have other autoimmune diseases that can cause an increase in CRP. Several healthy people have. approach me for a consultation after becoming anxious about a bold hsCRP value that was part of the so-called “int body tests” era “, which have become so common since the Covid pandemic! It definitely doesn’t mean you’ll have a heart attack! Always, hsCRP results, just like any other test, should be interpreted in a clinical context ”.

What do the numbers say?

High numbers indicate that an otherwise healthy human being is more prone to heart disease such as arterial blockages, heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest, stroke, and peripheral artery disease in the future.

According to Dr. Anupam Goel, Director – Interventional Cardiology, Max Hospital, Saket, “along with other risk factors and lipid panels, elevated Hs-CRP could be a marker for a high risk of CVD even in apparently healthy individuals. could be an indication of one’s heart health. When CPR hs is high, it should be repeated twice, optimally two weeks apart (in patients without infection or acute illness) to confirm that the person has low persistent levels of inflammation. High CRP hs is only a marker of inflammation and is not specific for predicting heart disease. These values ​​are only part of the total assessment for heart disease and should be considered with high cholesterol, sugar, hypertension , smoking and other CVD risk factors ”.

High 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 sugar levels in Fatty blood).

Read more: Watch out for these heart attack symptoms that appear a month earlier

Regular screening is important after age 40

People over the age of 40 should have regular annual heart checkups which include blood tests for each system (kidney, liver, sugar, and cholesterol), chest X-ray, ECG, echocardiography, and treadmill test as needed. If the individual falls into the high risk category of heart disease, it means that they have a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, history of chronic smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or obesity and especially if the individual has symptoms of heart disease such as chest pain or discomfort and wheezing, etc., they should undergo these tests even before the age of 40 and consult a cardiologist.

Dr Vivek explains: “There is a lot of controversy surrounding executive checkups and routine tests to take care of their heart health. People panic because every day we hear of people collapsing in the gym while cycling. , etc. What is strongly recommended for everyone from the age of 30 is regular blood pressure control, weight measurement, sugar and cholesterol measurement. The frequency can be decided on an individual basis depending on the underlying heart risk . Even 2-3 annual tests for glucose and cholesterol and annual blood pressure checks are quite reasonable in fit healthy people. People who are at higher risk for heart disease, for example, a strong family history of heart disease, people with diabetes, obesity, people recovering from severe COVID etc. should be screened more frequently and even more extensively with additional tests. These may include specific kidney and urine tests, echocardiography, etc. A treadmill test or coronary calcium score may also be reasonable in sedentary patients at high risk for heart disease. In a very few selected cases with high risk of disease and atypical cardiac symptoms, a CT coronary angiogram is also ordered ”.

How to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle?

A heart-healthy lifestyle has also been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease hsCRP. This includes the total avoidance of active and passive exposure to smoke and tobacco; a healthy diet consisting mainly of unprocessed foods that are high in fiber, while maintaining ideal body weight and regular physical activity.

Dr Ankur Phatarpekar, director Cathlab and interventional cardiologist, Symbiosis Hospital, Mumbai, shares: “The different preventive measures that can be taken to keep the heart healthy can be classified as lifestyle modifications and drug-based treatments. Lifestyle changes that can be made are eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy body weight, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol consumption. These lifestyle changes also contribute to lower blood glucose and blood pressure that affects the heart. Medication-based treatments include treatments for CVD in addition to treatment for high cholesterol levels, hypertension and high blood glucose levels. ”

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