Dr. Jennifer Lush, ND
Heart Health: Beyond Cholesterol Testing
As heart health month wraps up it’s a reminder that making sure your cardiovascular system is in top notch shape should be a focus 12 months of the year! Many of you may receive annual basic cholesterol screening labs from a primary care provider. However, advancements in testing have demonstrated that there are more markers than just your basic cholesterol levels (although those are still important to monitor).
If you have a family history of heart disease such as stroke or heart attacks or a family history of elevated cholesterol, you should also consider have inflammatory heart tests done. These include a caridiac CRP, homocysteine as well as the APO proteins.
A high CRP test result is a sign of acute inflammation. It may be due to serious infection, injury or chronic disease. Results for an hs-CRP (cardiac CRP) test are usually given as follows: Lower risk of heart disease: hs-CRP level less than 2.0 mg/L.
Homocysteine is a common amino acid in your blood. You get it mostly from eating meat. High levels of it are linked to early development of heart disease. In fact, a high level of homocysteine is a risk factor for heart disease. It's associated with low levels of vitamins B6, B12, and folate, as well as renal disease.
Apolipoprotein A is a protein carried in HDL ("good") cholesterol. It helps start the process for HDL to remove bad types of cholesterol from your body. In this way, apolipoprotein A can help to lower your risk for cardiovascular disease.
ApoBs are proteins found in lipoprotein particles that are artery-clogging. The apoB-containing lipoprotein particles that are the most damaging to our arteries include not only LDL cholesterol but also remnants of chylomicrons and VLDL (very low density lipoproteins).
Finally, in addition to the blood tests that can be easily ordered above anyone with high cholesterol or personal family history of heart disease should consider having a coronary calcium score done. This is a simple xray of plaque build up in your arteries.
A heart scan, also known as a coronary calcium scan, is a specialized X-ray test that provides pictures of your heart that can help your doctor detect and measure calcium-containing plaque in your arteries.
Plaque inside the arteries of your heart can grow and restrict blood flow to the muscles of your heart. Measuring calcified plaque with a heart scan may allow your doctor to identify possible coronary artery disease before you have signs and symptoms.
All of the Naturopathic physicians at NSNM can aid you with ordering the testing listed above. Contact us today if it’s time to keep your heart healthy!