by Garreth Myers

Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate or sedrate is a simple, cost-effective test used to evaluate the degree of inflammation and diagnose the associated conditions. It is a non-specific parameter, as the causative factor and the area of infection remains unidentified. It is a directly proportional relation, thereby greater the ESR, higher the non-specific inflammation.

Severe conditions such as, auto immune diseases and cancer can be diagnosed. Inflammatory diseases, such as, temporal arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica are also diagnosed. The activity of the disease and the reaction to the treatment can be scrutinized. As the inflammation in the blood raises, the inflammation causing substances bind to the red blood cells thereby resulting in the faster dropping of the cells. In healthy individuals, the sedimentation rate is less and increases on swelling and infection.

The area of blood withdrawal is cleansed with an antiseptic and the pressure cuff is tied on the arm. This pressure results in the filling of blood in the veins below. The test includes withdrawal of blood from the vein of the elbow or the back of hand. The blood is drawn into an air-tight vial. The band is released later, to restore blood circulation. The needle is removed and the site of insertion is covered with a cotton ball to stop bleeding.

The normal values range from 0 to 2 mm/hr (millimeters per hour) in newborns and 3 to 13 mm/hr in neonates, till puberty. Men under 50 years old have an ESR less than 15 mm/hr and above 50 years should have less than 20 mm/hr. The values for women under 50 years old is less than 20 mm/hr and less than 30 mm/hr in over 50 years old.

Rheumatoid factors is an important indicator of arthritis and a variety of antibodies seen in majority of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. Lack of any autoimmune disorder or rheumatoid arthritis results in a low rheumatoid arthritis factor. The severity of the disease is low, if the arthritic patient detects a low RA factor. Levels of antibodies that get bounded to citrulline modified proteins (anti-CCP),that act as a carrier is a reliable test, more specific and remains increased in arthritic patients. The severity or intensity of the disease in a particular person is predicted based on these values.

ESR for rheumatoid arthritis doesn't point to any particular disease, but is a general indication of the amount of inflammation in the body. In lupus and polymyalgia rheumatica, the ESR often correlates with disease activity.

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