As we age, the importance of maintaining healthy arteries is crucial. The sooner you know and treat your heart disease, the better. Refrain from relying on the testing that insurance carriers cover because the insurance industry is based on taking in more money than it pays out. MDLifespan strongly focuses on heart health for our clients, testing genetics, cholesterol, inflammation, oxidation, and toxins and examining the disease already present in your arteries through Coronary Artery Calcium Score CT and Carotid Arteries Ultrasounds.
Standard Cholesterol Testing
A standard cholesterol blood test is how you will be screened every five years or, if you are older, every one to two years unless otherwise specified by your physician. A standard cholesterol blood test requires fasting for several hours beforehand and will provide you and your physician with an estimate of the following cholesterol types:
Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL)
High-density Lipoprotein (HDL)
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. LDL is a protein (a lipoprotein to be exact) which transports cholesterol in the bloodstream. High levels of LDL cholesterol may raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, sometimes called “good” cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol in the blood and transports it back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood. Triglycerides are formed when your body converts sugar to fat. Once converted, the triglycerides are stored in fat cells to be used for energy in between meals. Elevated levels of triglycerides can occur when your intake is more calories than you burn, which could thicken your artery walls or harden the arteries.
Total Cholesterol represents the combined amount of “bad” cholesterol (low-density, or LDL) and “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) in your blood. The formula to calculate the Total Cholesterol is the sum of all the LDL, and HDL, and 1/5 of the Triglycerides.
Advanced Cholesterol Testing
Basic testing gives you a general idea of your cholesterol levels, but some carriers (called particles) of the bad cholesterol LDL are small enough to go undetected during screening. These small dense particles are made when inflammation, oxidation, and glycation are present. The danger here is that these small dense particles can easily invade your artery walls, causing damage and plaque buildup.
There are additional elements that are looked for with the advanced testing, including:
LDL particle numbers and sizes
HDL particle numbers and sizes
Apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1)
Apolipoprotein B (ApoB)
Where LDL-C stands for the amount of cholesterol being transported by LDL to the cells, LDL-P (P for particles) stands for the number of transport proteins. These particles come in various sizes from large and fluffy (harmless) to small and dense (sdLDL-P) which are very dangerous to the artery walls.
Where HDL-C stands for the amount of cholesterol being transported by HDL back to the liver, HDL-P (P for particles) stands for the number of transport proteins. Current research suggests that HDL-P (HDL particle number) when low is a better predictor of heart disease than HDL-C.
Apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I) attaches to HDL and regulates cholesterol trafficking, is protective against heart disease, and regulates the inflammatory and immune response. Think of ApoA-I as a good protein driver steering the HDL to the best places to reprocess or flush the cholesterol.
Apolipoprotein B (ApoB) attaches to the LDL, and ApoB then steers the LDL through the circulation. There are two types of ApoB: ApoB-48, which is made in your gut, and ApoB-100, which is made in your liver. ApoB-48 carries fat and cholesterol to your liver, where it is repackaged and combined with ApoB-100. From here, LDL with the ApoB-100 moves throughout your body.
Lipoprotein (a) is a type of LDL. These lipoproteins carry cholesterol directly to the cells in your arteries. If you have high levels of Lipoprotein (a), cholesterol builds up in your arteries and causes blockages.
MDLifespan providers always check these levels on every patient ensuring we know the most we can about you, your heart and your longevity.