CARDIOLOGY | PREVENTIVE
Advanced Lipid Testing
With heart disease being the number one cause of death in the United States, advanced lipid testing is becoming a great way to monitor cholesterol and prevent the onset of heart diseases. Most heart disease is a result of high cholesterol. There are genetic factors, but diet is the biggest problem. The United States, in particular, consumes a high-fat diet. Everywhere we look there is a fast food restaurant selling food that is bad for our health. As you age, you increase your risk of heart disease. Advanced lipid testing is more in-depth than regular lipid testing. It has a lot more benefits and reveals a lot more than just how low or high your cholesterol is.
Cholesterol is a type of fat. You might think cholesterol is bad, but it is not a completely bad thing. There are two types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. LDL is low-density lipoprotein. HDL is high-density lipoprotein. Cholesterol is named based on its structure.
LDL is considered bad cholesterol and HDL is considered good cholesterol. LDL is primarily composed of cholesterol, while HDL is primarily composed of protein. LDL is a problem because it clogs the arteries, whereas HDL does not. As the cholesterol continues to build up, the risk of heart disease increases.
Cholesterol and Heart Disease
Having high cholesterol, in general, does not cause heart disease, but when you have high LDL levels, and low HDL levels you are at risk for cholesterol build up in your arteries. Heart disease does not happen overnight. When you are first diagnosed with high cholesterol, you typically do not get heart disease right away. Heart disease comes as a result of persistent cholesterol build up that is not resolved. Eventually, the arteries begin to harden and become narrow. Both the hardening and narrowing of the arteries limits blood flow to the heart and can ultimately cause heart attacks and congestive heart failure. To prevent heart disease, a lipid test must be done.
There are several types of cholesterol tests. They all measure different things. One test is a total cholesterol test. This test measures HDL, LDL, and Triglycerides. Other tests measure each type of cholesterol individually. The tests can measure the sizes of the cholesterol in the system. There are rules you have to follow before testing. These rules help to get an accurate reading.
Advanced Lipid Test
Advanced lipid tests are much more thorough than a normal cholesterol test. Advanced lipid testing may be done in conjunction with regular lipid tests. Advanced lipid testing help to give the doctor and patient a better idea of the cholesterol-related risk of heart disease and stroke. Two tests that are done are the apolipoprotein B (apoB) and the LDL particle number (LDL-P). In a normal lipid test, if you have a certain number, you are considered healthy. The problem is that those numbers are not a defining factor for whether or not you are at risk for heart disease. Advanced lipid tests measure more than cholesterol; it measures LDL particles. A high number of cholesterol particles puts you at risk for plaque buildup in the arteries. The size of these particles is measured as well. Besides cholesterol problems, the size of these particles can also show your risk for other conditions like diabetes. The apoB test is slightly different. It measures the concentration of lipoprotein particles that contain an apolipoprotein B on their surface. Apo B is a label that is put on particles that have the potential of causing disease. Both Apo B and LDL-P measures risks of heart disease rather than whether or not you have high cholesterol or not.
Ways to Lower Cholesterol
Being diagnosed with high cholesterol does not automatically guarantee you will have heart disease. Getting diagnosed means that it is time to take control and lower your cholesterol before things get worse. The first step is changing your diet. Lowering not only your fat intake but your sugar intake as well can lower your cholesterol tremendously. Drinking water instead of soda and alcohol makes a big difference. If you are overweight, exercise is important. By losing weight, you help your body get healthy again and break down that cholesterol in the arteries. You should add more fiber to your diet and good fats. All fat is not bad, but the kind of fat we typically eat is. Adding food like avocado, walnuts, and skinless chicken will give you the necessary amount of fat you need without adding LDL to your arteries. Fish is another food that is good for you. The omega- 3 fatty acids in fish lower cholesterol.
Paying attention to your diet is important. A poor diet puts you at risk for heart disease and other health-related problems. It is good to stay current on your physicals as well. Many people suffer a heart attack and stroke simply because they skip out on going to the doctor. By getting a yearly examination, the doctor will be able to diagnose high cholesterol before it becomes life-threatening. Advanced lipid testing is saving lives and helping you to get a better understanding of your risks so that you can make a change now.
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