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Is LDL an accurate indicator for heart diseases risk?

The goal of preventing heart attacks and strokes has been focused on maintaining low total cholesterol and LDL, also known as “bad cholesterol.”   LDL marker alone doesn’t provide sufficient information about your heart health.  Other lab markers need to be considered to assess your risk factors for cardiovascular disease: HDL, triglyceride, lipoprotein (a), lipoprotein size and number of particles, vitamin D, homocysteine, HbA1c, hsCRP, PLA2, GGT and hormones.

 

Men are at higher risk than pre-menopausal women for developing heart disease.  However, post-menopausal women risk increases to the same level as men. 

 

Why is there a drastic increase risk for women and heart disease after menopause?

It’s all about the hormone… women with low estrogen and men with low testosterone are at higher risk of having heart problems and increase level of lipoprotein (a).

 

Lipoprotein (a):

If you haven’t had this blood test done yet and have a family history of heart disease, personal medical history of heart disease (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, strokes, heart attack, etc) or diabetes, then you should consider talking to your doctor about this test.  Lipoprotein (a) is a stronger indicator of risk factor for stroke and is commonly hereditary.

 

Lipoprotein size and number of particles:

Larger size and lesser numbers of lipoprotein particles indicate lesser risk of heart disease.  Reference the picture above: all the individuals in the picture have same LDL value that was determined from a standard lipid blood panel.  Observe the difference in the risk factor with “Jerry” who had larger and less LDL particles and “Maria” who has smaller and more LDL particles. Total LDL alone is not enough to assess heart disease risk.  This test can be ordered through Spectracell Lab.

 

Phospholipase A2 (PLA2):

A common scenario, you had a physical done by your doctor, your blood pressure is normal, lipid blood test is within normal range with support of taking a “cholesterol lowering medication,” normal EKG/echo/stress test but you feel occasional headaches, numbness in the extremities, shortness of breath, random high blood pressure, etc.  What could be causing these symptoms?  

PLA2 is an enzyme that’s found in plaque; the same type of plaque that’s located in your arteries.  The test is an indicator for active heart disease and a marker for stroke risk factor. The higher value correlates with a higher risk for stroke.

 

Vitamin D:

There’s a lot of talk about the benefits of vitamin D helping with depression and supporting immune function during cold/flu season…what about heart health? Vitamin D helps with cholesterol metabolism, maintain calcium balance in your body and has a direct effect on the cardiovascular system.  For cardiovascular health vitamin D level should be within the range of 50-60ng/mL. This is a simple blood test that can be ordered by your doctor.

 

It’s important to consider all the other tests mentioned above in order to obtain a comprehensive assessment of your cardiovascular health.  There are both conventional and alternative treatment options to help lower your risk factors for heart disease. 

 

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Elk Grove Naturopathic Medicine
9727 Elk Grove-Florin Road, Suite 140
Elk Grove, CA 95624
(916) 895-1630


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