Every 20 seconds, one American suffers a heart attack. And every 60 seconds one of those heart attacks turns into a fatality, making heart disease our leading killer.
With statistics like those, protecting your heart should be your number one priority. Where to begin? A blood test for C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation is a good first step.
Elevated levels of CRP mean your body is suffering from inflammation, the root cause of most diseases.
Even at low levels, chronic inflammation sets the stage for some serious ailments, including heart disease, cancer, and painful joint problems, like arthritis.
A CRP score above 1 is a big red flag. That means it’s time to start looking for the source of the problem. It could be a heart issue, or it could be an infection or it could even be cancer. In any case, further testing is required.
If you learn that your CRP score is more than 1, please don’t panic. Inflammation can be reduced with natural remedies that we’ll look at shortly. But first, it’s important to identify the problem and determine where it’s located.
If heart disease is suspected, the next step is the hsCRP test, or high-sensitivity CRP. Also known as cCRP, with the “c” standing for cardiac, this test measures even small concentrations of C-reactive protein.
You may find that your insurance company won’t pick up the tab for an hsCRP test, which could cost several hundred dollars. I realize that’s not inexpensive, but it can provide additional guidance you may consider worth it.
Elevated levels of hsCRP are considered risk factors for heart attack, stroke, sudden heart failure, and possibly peripheral arterial disease (PAD), as well.
That’s because inflammation leads to plaque accumulation in the arteries, a known risk factor for stroke or heart attack.
The scoring guidelines for the hsCRP test are as follows:
- Low risk: less than 1.0 mg/L
- Average risk: 1.0 to 3.0 mg/L
- High risk: above 3.0 mg/L
Here again, a score higher than 1 indicates a potential problem. At the high end of the scale, there’s an increased risk of heart disease, as well as up to four times the risk of having a heart attack – even if cholesterol levels are ideal!
Traditional medicine has no remedy for inflammation. A conventional doctor may recommend a daily aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID). And although these drugs do reduce inflammation, they also create a whole new set of problems, including possible stomach or vision damage.
So what can you do about inflammation? I have two outstanding remedies to share with you.
Let’s start with curcumin, an extract of the spice turmeric, which has proven its inflammation-fighting abilities in hundreds of studies. Curcumin also helps blood vessels dilate, so circulation is improved.
I recommend 500 to 2,000 mg of curcumin daily. But please do your homework and choose a product with enhanced bioavailability for best absorption. Otherwise, you’re not getting the benefits of this versatile nutrient.
Here’s another way to lower inflammation and do the rest of your body a big favor at the same time – take supplements of the good fats known as omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs).
These beneficial fats fight inflammation throughout the body, help raise your HDL (good) cholesterol and prevent blood from becoming too thick, which makes it harder for the heart to pump.
Ideally, your blood should be the consistency of red wine, not ketchup, and good fats can help with that.
Plus, here’s an additional benefit of taking omega-3s: flexible blood vessels. If you garden, you’ve probably seen an older, inflexible rubber hose crack and burst open. This is similar to what happens in your body when arteries harden or the lining is compromised.
Artery linings are damaged by high levels of glucose (sugar), poor quality fats, or too much bad cholesterol and homocysteine. Then they become inflexible and prone to plaque deposits, leaving you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Even though your heart and every cell in your body needs an abundant supply of the good fats found in EFAs, these nutrients are difficult to get in the Standard American Diet.
Eating salmon, trout, and herring, since those fish are rich in omega-3s, is one way to get your good fats. But unfortunately the oceans and other waterways are full of toxins, and so are the fish.
So your best bet is to get your omega-3s from a daily dose of 1,000 mg of purified fish or marine oil.
If you’re living with inflammation, correcting that risk factor is completely up to you. That’s why I recommend getting tested. If your score is in the danger zone, then do everything you can to reduce it.
Last Updated: February 6, 2019
Originally Published: September 4, 2014