2) High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein Test
This may be the first you’re hearing about C-reactive protein (CRP), but researchers have been looking at it for years. “CRP is a well-known marker for inflammation,” says Andrew Diamond, M.D., Ph.D., a San Francisco–based doctor with One Medical Group who specializes in preventive medicine. CRP levels are important because all cardiovascular disease shows low-grade, chronic inflammation. A high-sensitivity C-reactive protein test is so sensitive that it can detect low concentrations of CRP and help determine a person’s degree of risk for developing cardiovascular illness before any symptoms appear. In the future, doctors also hope to use the test to help prevent strokes and predict the success of a potential heart transplant.
Who should get the test: The test may be useful for a select group of people, Diamond says. Anyone with inflammation from another illness, injury, or even a cold will not get accurate results. Only healthy people at an intermediate risk of heart disease should get the test. “For low and high-risk patients, what to do is more clear-cut,” Diamond says. “If you’re on the fence about how aggressively you need to reduce your risk, CRP results can help.”
Cost: $50–$150; covered by some insurance providers.