Another test, not as well known, but equally important, is called C-reactive protein. Though not routinely ordered, it too can give you a baseline and an indication of current cardiovascular disease risk. But first, it’s important you have a bit of an idea about inflammation and how it impacts health.
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury. When you get a cut, a bruise, a splinter, even a viral infection the inflammatory response is triggered, causing redness, heat, swelling and pain. This is because your body is sending a rich supply of blood to the area and then is increasing vascular permeability so plasma can pass easily out of the capillaries and into the tissues.
Your body then sends out the major troops through the bloodstream to the traumatized area. Their job is to destroy any bacteria, viruses or other pathogens and control the amount of tissue damage.
Acute inflammation happens quickly and usually resolves itself in about twelve hours. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, may not be as intense or painful but lasts longer and is more of a health concern. It’s a fine balance because if your immune system reacts too intensely, normal tissue can be harmed.
Inflammation that doesn’t resolve itself quickly or systemic inflammation causes the production of pro-inflammatory compounds. One of these is called (you won’t be quizzed on this) cytokine tumor necrosis factor or TNF-a. What’s interesting about this substance is that it plays a role in communication between the immune system and the brain.
TNF-a isn’t the only compound produced in response to chronic inflammation. Another substance created by your body during systemic inflammation is C-reactive protein or CRP. People with high levels of this protein in their blood run a higher risk of having a heart attack and also of developing age-related macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease.
Testing for this substance is simple and inexpensive. Unfortunately, it isn’t normally requisitioned. Yet, in one study, involving over 39,000 women, the highest levels of CRP were found in women with a risk of developing cardiovascular disease that was five times higher than women with the lowest levels.
Inflammation weakens blood vessels, produces compounds that accelerate the aging process, and can even promote cancer. The challenge is you may not even be aware your body is suffering from chronic inflammation. That’s why this simple test is so important to have done. If your levels are high, there are many natural remedies ranging from dietary changes to supplementation. Don’t worry, I’ve got 90 more things to do to build brain health, you can bet there will be some things to do to control inflammation!
Prescription for Today
Add C-reactive protein to the tests you’ll be asking your doctor about.
Inflammation can be triggered by a variety of things like:
- Blood sugar imbalances,
- Physical injury,
- Stress, and
- Oxygen deficiency.
Stimulate your brain by watching this terminology rich video on the immune system. Let me know what you think!
copyright 2011 @ Meza Health Systems, Inc.