Lipid Panel Blood Test: monitoring and sustaining healthy
Detecting any kind of blood vessel problems before they lead to a catastrophe is life-saving. This is what we call early detection – the primary purpose of creating our platform. It was estimated by WHO that 17,9 million people died from cardio-vascular cases in 2016, which accounts for 31% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% resulted from either a heart attack or a stroke. In more than half of these cases, diseases were clinically silent. Till the very day when heart attacks took away their lives they didn’t feel any pain in their chest, nor any heartbeat disorder, which could point to any heart problems. Unfortunately, in most cases, nobody could have suspected anything wrong with these people, since they did not have the privilege to do a check-up at the doctor’s and take timely measures. And today we will talk about monitoring and sustaining healthy lipid levels and the importance of doing so for healthy living. The good news is that it is one of the few medical tests ordered on a regular basis by all practitioners. So, a lipid panel blood test helps to assess the four major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases: total cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Many tragedies can be avoided due to the existence of a few simple, safe and inexpensive lab tests. These tests are able to detect a cardiovascular disease long before it results in a heart attack or a blood stroke. Detect it when it is possible to prevent almost any disorders. Luckily, for taking the recommended medical tests neither big money nor doctors’ prescriptions or permissions are needed.
So, an effective program of early diagnosing is based on a combination of several blood tests, namely homocysteine levels and CRP lab tests, and radiological methods, including calcium score and coronary ultrasonography, which might be added into your Preventive Medicine health checklist.
The American Heart Association recommends that everyone over age 20 get a lipid panel blood test so you know what your levels are and can do something about them if you need to. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends that adults have their cholesterol checked every 5 years.
Cholesterol is the form of fat we need to make outer membranes of our body cells stable. However, doctors have noticed for many years that people with high cholesterol levels suffer from cardiovascular diseases more often. In fact, they have discovered recently that different forms of cholesterol (“good” and “bad” cholesterol) also play a role. High levels of total cholesterol, high levels of bad cholesterol or low levels of good cholesterol adversely affect the cardiovascular system. For example, LDL or “bad” cholesterol can stick to blood vessel walls. For many years it can be a major factor in artery obstruction and more specifically in hardening of arteries, the process known as atherosclerosis.
Narrow arteries of your heart can get spontaneous blood clots, causing heart attacks and strokes. And high levels of triglycerides in the blood are associated with higher risks of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), even though the exact reason for this is not clear.
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More than 102 million American Adults (20 years or older) have total cholesterol levels at or above 200 mg/dL, which is above healthy levels. More than 35 million of these people have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, which puts them at high risk for heart disease.
Preventive guidelines for a lipid panel blood test among young adults differ, but experts agree on the need to screen young adults who have other risk factors for coronary heart disease: obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and family history
Less than half of young adults who have these risk factors don’t get cholesterol screening even though up to a quarter of them have elevated cholesterol.
Lipid Panel Results
Total Cholesterol Levels
Following the recommendations by the US National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) total cholesterol concentration should fall below 200 mg/dL (5.17 mmol/L). 200 – 239 range will be the upper limit, any numbers higher than 240 indicate a risk of cardio-vascular diseases twice as high as that indicated by numbers lower than 200. As a general rule, the higher the cholesterol levels, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease, although cholesterol is not the only risk factor. However, some new scientific evidence suggests that the optimum total cholesterol should lie within the range of 160 to 180 mg/dL (4.6 mmol/L). This data is supported by some investigation, showing that lowering total cholesterol to these indexes may decrease the risk of cardiovascular cases. If your cardiac computed tomography (CT) or carotid artery ultrasound detected problems, you need to bring your total cholesterol down to these optimum levels.
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or LDL Lab Test Results
LDL stands for low–density lipoproteins. It is sometimes called the “bad” cholesterol because a high LDL level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. An extra LDL, along with other substances, forms plaque. The plaque builds up in your arteries; this is a condition called atherosclerosis.
To define your own optimum LDL cholesterol you have to consider all risk factors from those listed below:
Serious risk factors:
- Diagnosed coronary heart disease
- cardiometabolic syndrome
- coronary artery calcium (calcium score) lower than 75 percentile for your age (this is an extra recommendation – it is not listed in NCEP).
If you found to have one or more serious risk factors, you are in the group of high risk and it’s time to come to grips with the fact that you have to lower your LDL-C levels.
NCEP recommends the maximum level of LDL cholesterol for this high-risk group is 100 mg/dL (2.58 mmol/L).
Key risk factors:
- Age: older than 45 for men, and older than 55 for women
- Cigarette smoking
- Cases of premature heart disease or cardiovascular disease cases among close relatives (parents, siblings, or children) (older than 55 for men or older than 65 for women)
- High arterial blood pressure (140/90 or higher, or if drugs are taken to normalize blood pressure)
- HDL levels below 40
- Calcium score higher than 25 procentile (this is an extra recommendation – it is not listed in NCEP).
If you have one or less key risk factors, then according to NCEP, your LDL levels must be lower than 160 mg/dL (4.14 mmol/L). At the same time if you have 2 or more risk factors, then, NCEP recommends, you should keep your LDL levels below 130, and below 100 would be even better. People who belong to the high-risk group of getting a heart attack or a stroke recommended keeping LDL levels below 100. Some recent studies show (indicate) positive results when the numbers are kept under 70.
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol or HDL Lab Test results
High density lipoproteins (hdl) cholesterol is thought of as “good” cholesterol because it removes cholesterol plaques from arteries. HDL level below 40 mg/dL (or 1.03 mmol/L) is the main risk factor of cardiovascular disease. If HDL level is higher than 60 mg/dL, cholesterol of this type performs barrier function. At the same time, HDL levels below 40mg /dL among men and below 50 mg/dL among women are the symptom of (indicate, point to) metabolic syndrome, which in its turn, is also a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Triglycerides Lab Test results
Triglycerides are the main criteria indicating levels of fat in the blood. The high content of triglycerides combined with low HDL levels is considered a characteristic of metabolic syndrome. Often high levels of triglycerides result from high consumption of sugar-containing products and high glycemic index. The norm for a glycemic index is below 150 mg/dL, and the optimum level is below 100 mg/dL.
HDL and triglycerides are metabolically connected and are often inversely related: As triglycerides go up, HDL goes down — and vice versa. But that isn’t always so. People can have “isolated” high triglycerides without low HDL levels, and research is now showing that high triglycerides are an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, no matter what the HDL is 1.
Lipid Panel Blood test
Test Code: 7600
Specimen Type: Blood
Lipid Panel Blood Test With Additional Additional Classes
Some labs provide advanced cardiovascular and lipid panel blood test that go beyond typical cholesterol testing to uncover risk factors for early heart disease.
As you can see there are two new components are added to this test: Lp(a) and ApoB. Lp(a) (also called Lipoprotein(a) is a lipoprotein subclass. Genetic studies and numerous epidemiologic studies have identified Lp(a) as a risk factor for atherosclerotic diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke. It is similar to low – density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad” cholesterol) in that it contains a single apolipoprotein B protein along with cholesterol and other lipids. This test measures the amount of Lp(a) in the blood to help evaluate a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).
ApoB and ApoA-I are the two major apolipoproteins involved in lipid transport and in the processes causing atherosclerosis and its complications. ApoB is the main protein found in the low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Apo B increases this clogging, so your Apo B level may be a better indicator of cardiovascular risk than even LDL cholesterol.
VAP test for determining lipid levels
So, VAP test or Vertical Auto Profile provides even more detailed information about lipid levels as opposed to conventional examination, since this lab test directly assesses LDL levels. Traditional tests on the other hand measure only total cholesterol, HDL and triglyceride levels, and then use them to calculate LDL levels using these numbers. However, this is not the only advantage of VAP test, as this test gives additional information about the size and a current number of LDL particles, as well as tells about the number of less dangerous, large and spongy A-particles, and more dangerous small and dense LDL B-particles present in your body. Light and spongy A-particles easily push off the artery walls. On the other hand, small and dense B-particles are destructive and easily penetrate artery walls. An elevated number of small B-particles is often found among patients suffering from diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
Components of Lab Package
- HDL2 and HDL3 subfractions
- Pattern A or B LDL
- LDL-R (real)
- Lp (a)
- Remnant lipoprotein
Because VAP measures additional lipoprotein classes, such as Lp(a), IDL, and subclasses of HDL, LDL, and VLDL, it can identify patients at high risk for coronary heart disease who cannot be identified using the standard lipid panel blood test. In addition, the VAP method is compliant with the National Cholesterol Education Program’s Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines.
Thus, if your lipid levels don’t meet the norms, you should take this test more often, say every four or six months, until you achieve the results you wish.
Treating high cholesterol levels
Treatment of high cholesterol is not just about lowering its levels. Instead, it is rather about bringing down the risks for cardiovascular disease back to the norm. The treatment can be considered well tested if it is proven to be effective in preventing heart disease.
If you have increased risks of cardiovascular disease, you are often encouraged to take some essential steps during the treatment course, such as:
- Stop smoking
- Reduce your consumption of saturated and trans fats
Saturated and trans fatty acids are the ones increasing bad cholesterol (LDL) and reducing good cholesterol (HDL). These types of fatty acids are found in animals (fatty meat cuts, fatty cheeses, cooked meats, cream, butter, etc.), hydrogenated fats (shortening, partially hydrogenated oil, etc.), and tropical oils (coconut, copra, palm, and palm kernel oils). Therefore, it is very important to read the ingredient list of the products you purchase at the grocery in order to reduce your consumption of these fats.
Also, look at the nutritional value chart, and purchase foods with 0 trans fats and less than 10 % D.V. of saturated fats per serving.
- Follow the Mediterranean diet
- Move more and do more exercises
- Lose weight if needed
- Add soluble fibers to your daily meals
Soluble fiber prevents fats from being absorbed, which also contributes to lowering bad cholesterol (LDL). Soluble fibers are found in legumes (bean salads, chilly, lentils soup), oats (oat bread, porridge, oat bran products in a smoothie and dried bread crumbs) and ground linseeds (which can be used as a universal topping)
- Increase your intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the ones lowering bad LDL cholesterol and increasing the good HDL cholesterol. They are found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, avocado, olives, fish, and seafood.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption
Food Supplements for Lowering Cholesterol
Certain food supplements may also have a positive effect on lipid profile recovery. Thus a study in 2017 demonstrated positive results when omega-3 was added. Final results indicated that treatment by both omega-3 supplements and fresh fish caused a significant decrease in total cholesterol, non-HDL cholesterol, TG levels, and total cholesterol/HDL ratio but this reduction was more prominent in the fresh fish group. Patients of the dietary-fish group were asked to consume 250 g farmed trout fish (which contained 1.4 g omega-3 (280 mg EPA and 160 mg DHA) per 100 g) two times a week for dinner and lunch for 2 months.
Some other research has proven that adding alpha-lipoic acid can enhance lipid profile parameters, except HDL cholesterol levels. Positive results were achieved in the study of effects produced by calcium and calcium+D supplements on excess weight patients. The results showed a decrease in triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol.
It can be concluded that when assessing medicines just like with other treatment types, it’s not enough to see how they affect cholesterol levels. Until now, there has only been one medical products group, known as statins, investigated for curing high cholesterol levels among people who didn’t have heart attacks, strokes or other cardiovascular diseases. Statins were proven to decrease LDL cholesterol levels as well as have a positive effect on blood vessels. Researchers are split on whether these positive effects of statins are due to their ability to bring down cholesterol levels, or whether other factors play a role as well.