What are important factors for heart health?
One important factor is the amount of lipids – fats – in the body. Simply speaking, heart disease develops when your blood lipids – i.e. your total cholesterol level – get too high. But researchers have recently found that the complete picture involves many other important factors.
Scientists have identified new warning markers, related to nutrition, blood clotting, and inflammation that can play a major role in determining whether an individual will suffer a heart attack. Using these latest advancements in cardiovascular research, we now have a unique comprehensive cardiovascular assessment that measures 10 important markers and their ratios:
What do these markers mean?
You may already be familiar with some of lipid markers such as LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which are increased by a diet high in saturated fats or carbohydrates and often lead to heart disease. HDL cholesterol, commonly called the “good cholesterol,” is bolstered by exercise and fish oils, and actually protects your heart. Apo A-1 and Apo B are important protein components of these two cholesterols that influence their movement in the bloodstream and determine their impact on your cardiovascular system.
But besides these important standard markers, there are new independent factors that can double or even triple the likelihood of heart attack and stroke.
Researchers at Harvard recently discovered that C-reactive protein, a protein that indicates inflammation in the body, serves as a strong predictor of future heart attack and stroke. Levels of this important protein are increased by past or current infections, such as Chlamydia pneumoniae.
Another new marker, homocysteine, is an amino acid that can scrape the lining of blood vessel walls, triggering fatty deposits and atherosclerosis. One study found that men with high homocysteine had 3 times greater incidence of heart attack, even when adjustment for other factors was considered!
How will I understand the overall test results?
Having a combination of cardiac factors greatly increases your overall chance of heart disease. That's why your test results will also include a Cardiovascular Index, determined by a multivariate analysis of all of your individual markers, for a general indication of overall cardiac health.
What kinds of treatment can improve these markers?
The good news is that almost all these hidden factors that affect cardiovascular disease are modifiable. Cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels can often be managed through an active treatment program that addresses diet, exercise, and stress reduction. C-reactive protein can be reduced using anti-inflammatory agents. And despite being strongly influenced by genetics, homocysteine and Lp(a) can be modified with nutritional therapy. In fact, research evidence confirms that comprehensive lifestyle changes may be able to reduce the effects of even severe heart disease after only one year, without the use of drugs.
Call our office today to schedule your comprehensive cardiovascular assessment and let us provide you with the crucial information you need to improve your heart health.
Have you been diagnosed with high cholesterol?
Information courtesy of Quest Diagnostics
Cholesterol measurement and management is key in identifying and treating your risk for heart disease. The routine cholesterol test provides your physician with limited information and misses people at risk for heart disease. Now available is a better, more efficient cholesterol test – the new VAP® Cholesterol Test.
You should have a VAP® test if your:
Additionally, hereditary factors and existing conditions greatly affect your risk for heart disease. So, even if your routine cholesterol test results are within the normal range, you should have a VAP® test if you have:
Or if you are currently:
The new VAP® Cholesterol Test provides our doctors with more comprehensive, accurate cholesterol measurements to better assess and manage your risk for heart disease.