You probably know your cholesterol level. But what's your CRP level? If you don't know it, you should - especially if you're over 65. In fact, according to many experts, CRP (C-reactive protein) is a much better indicator of your cardiovascular health than your cholesterol.

If your CRP is too high, you're definitely at double or even triple the risk for a heart attack or stroke. But according to a new study, there's a way to control CRP. All you have to do is add modest amounts of one of the world's most common vitamins.

Inflammation is your enemy

Your liver produces CRP in response to inflammation in the body. It's your body's way of putting out the fire. In fact, the more inflammation you have, the more CRP you liver produces.

Inflammation in your blood vessels leads to arthrosclerosis (or hardening of the blood vessels). In fact, almost 10 years ago Dr. Paul Ridker discovered the connection between CRP and vascular disease (disease of your blood vessels).

In one study, Ridker found that patients with high CRP had a seven-fold increased risk of having a stroke. In another study, Ridker found that patients with high CRP had twice the risk of developing heart disease (compared to patients who just had high cholesterol). In fact, many of the patients who later suffered heart attacks would have gotten a clean bill of health if their doctors had only checked for high cholesterol.

Without a doubt, CRP testing can catch a problem that cholesterol testing would miss. And it is a fact that at least half of all heart attacks and strokes in the country occur in men and women who have normal cholesterol.

Not-so-hidden agendas

If CRP is so important, how come we still don't hear about ways to lower it on the TODAY show? How come your doctor doesn't routinely check your CRP level?

I call it "hush up" money. You see, Big Pharma only wants you to worry about your cholesterol. They spend billions of dollars to make sure you do. And that's because their most profitable drugs lower your cholesterol. They don't want you to know that taking a statin is like locking all the windows on your house, but leaving your front door wide open. (Interestingly, statins can lower CRP, but only if you take very high doses with explosive side effects.)

The good news is that you can lower your CRP without taking statin drugs. All you need is a little vitamin B6. In fact, according to a recent study, B6 significantly lowers your CRP (without any of the dangerous side effects associated with statins).

Cut CRP without statins

Researchers from Tufts University measured CRP levels in adults ages 45 and 75. In their results, they found that patients with the most B6 in their blood had much lower CRP levels (compared to those with low B6).

In fact, we're not talking slightly better numbers. The CRP levels in the B6 group were almost 50 percent lower! These patients also had lower levels of 8- OHdG, another important marker for cardiovascular disease risk.

Healthy tickers without statins

I can't stress it enough: make sure to ask your doctor to check your CRP level. Ask for a "highly-sensitive" CRP test (hsCRP). It's not usually included in routine blood work and you may have to pay a bit extra. But it's well worth it. Ideally, you don't want any CRP circulating in your body. But here's how to translate your lab results and assess your heart disease risk:

* LOW RISK: hs-CRP lower than 1.0mg/L
* AVERAGE RISK: hs-CRP between 1.0 and 3.0 mg/L
* HIGH RISK: hs-CRP above 3.0 mg/L

Plus, based on the recent Tufts research, you may want to add B-complex to your regimen, especially if you're already at risk for cardiovascular disease. A decent B-complex should contain at least 50 to 100 mg of B6. I'd recommend adding another 100-200 mg/day of B6 to address elevated CRP. In addition, here are four other heart-wise supplements that can help reduce inflammation:

* 1,000 mg L-Carnitine (take it with food for maximum effect)
* 100 mg Coenzyme Q10
* 500 to 800 mg Magnesium
* 400 to 800 IU Vitamin E (as natural mixed tocopherols)