Has a doctor ever tested your cholesterol levels? If so, they would have ordered a lipid panel. Other common names for this blood test include:
- Lipid profile
- Lipid test
- Cholesterol panel
- Coronary risk panel
- Fasting lipid panel or non-fasting lipid panel
Lipids are fat molecules. A traditional lipid panel measures things, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, in your blood. Excess lipids in your blood can cause damage to blood vessels and arteries, increasing your risk of cardiovascular issues.
The Traditional Lipid Panel
A typical lipid panel consists of four tests that measure:
- Total cholesterol
Optimizing these levels is the mainstay of mainstream medicine, but that is NOT the whole picture.
Are there more factors doctors should check to minimize your risk of developing long-term health conditions like heart disease? Absolutely!
The James Clinic Advanced Lipid Panel
At The James Clinic, we utilize an advanced lipid panel that measures the following:
- Total cholesterol
This advanced lipid panel more accurately depicts the state of your cardiovascular health, which can help us identify the underlying causes of any adverse measurements.
From there, we can implement effective interventions, such as dietary changes, therapeutic supplements, and even prescription medications.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is either produced by your liver or comes from your diet.
In healthy levels, cholesterol is good for you, as your body needs it to build cells, create vitamins and hormones, and digest fatty foods.
However, high levels of certain types of cholesterol can cause a build-up of fatty plaques in your arteries. These plaques raise your risk of heart disease, stroke, heart attacks, and other health complications.
What Are Lipoproteins?
Lipoproteins are essential particles that transport fats throughout the body. They carry a combination of proteins and vitamins as well as cholesterol, triglyceride, and phospholipid molecules.
Lipoproteins with varying amounts of cholesterol develop as lipoproteins circulate in the blood. During circulation, some molecules are removed or added. Two of the resulting lipoproteins are:
HDL-C (High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol)
HDL-C is commonly referred to as “good cholesterol” because it is associated with better cardiovascular health.
HDL-C and total cholesterol are usually measured from the same blood sample, allowing doctors to calculate the ratio of HDL-C to non-HDL cholesterol.
A patient with low levels of HDL-C may have an elevated risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
LDL-C (Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol)
LDL-C is traditionally known as “bad cholesterol” because it collects in blood vessel walls. Traditional lipid panels measure LDL-C by its weight. However, measuring LDL-C doesn’t tell doctors if the number of LDL-P (LDL particles) in your blood is too high. That is why some lipid panels include LDL-P measurements.
LDL-P (LDL Particles)
LDL-P develop when fat transport remains in circulation for an extended time.
There can be significant cholesterol content variability in any given LDL. By measuring the amount of LDL-P in your blood, doctors can determine if they are large and functioning correctly or small, dense, and dysfunctional.
Even if your total cholesterol and LDL-C levels aren’t exceptionally high, you may still be at risk for a cardiovascular event if your LDL-P are elevated.
OxLDL (Oxidized Low-Density Lipoprotein)
OxLDL occurs when LDL-P react with free radicals (unstable molecules). Oxidation is a normal process. However, sometimes, your body produces too much oxidized cholesterol, leading to inflammation in the arteries.
Blood platelets can stick to areas of inflammation, creating plaques that will decrease blood flow and raise your risk for a heart attack or stroke. Reducing your levels of small LDL-P can help prevent the formation of OxLDL.
Pro-Inflammatory LDL-P Visual
- Apolipoprotein A [apo (a)] – the shell of an HDL-P
- Apolipoprotein B-100 (apo B-100) – the shell of an LDL-P
*An LDL-P with an apo (a) is pro-inflammatory
Triglycerides, a form of fat, are essential energy sources for the body. However, perpetually increased triglyceride blood levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
To accurately test triglyceride blood levels, patients must fast for nine to 12 hours before the test and should abstain from alcohol for 24 hours before the test, but why?
Triglyceride levels naturally increase after eating as the body converts the energy not immediately needed into fat tissue. Then, between meals, the body releases the stored triglycerides from fat tissue to use as energy.
Hs-CRP (High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein)
Hs-CRP is an acute phase reactant (APC), or a substance in your blood that increases when there is inflammation in your body.
Did you know the leading risk factor for coronary artery disease is inflammation? People with persistently elevated hs-CRP levels are 30 times more likely to develop a relative risk of heart issues.
The hs-CRP test differs from the standard CRP test because it measures slight increases in CRP levels, even when CRP levels are within a normal range. Slightly high hs-CRP levels (1.0 – 3.0 mg/L) can predict several cardiovascular complications, even when your cholesterol levels are within an acceptable range.
White blood cells produce MPO, an enzyme that activates the formation of reactive oxidants.
It’s essential to note that MPO-derived reactive oxidants play a vital role in the body’s immune response. Their potent antimicrobial effects help protect the body from invading parasites and pathogens.
However, MPO-derived reactive oxidants also cause systemic inflammation, leading to tissue damage.
If a patient’s MPO blood levels are elevated, that could indicate they are suffering from an inflammatory disorder. Chronic inflammation can significantly increase the risk of developing heart disease if not managed.
Homocysteine is an amino acid that vitamins B12, B6, and folate break down to create other essential chemicals for the body. High homocysteine levels may indicate a vitamin B12, B6, and/or folate deficiency.
Doctors typically recommend this test if they suspect a patient is at risk of heart disease and stroke or if they’ve experienced a heart attack or stroke but do not have traditional risk factors, like unhealthy lipid levels.
Elevated levels of homocysteine may correlate to a higher risk for health complications, such as:
- Heart disease
- Peripheral vascular disease (fatty deposits in peripheral arteries)
- Hardening arteries (atherosclerosis)
- Blood clot formation
The James Clinic
Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is vital to your health. When testing cholesterol levels and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, there’s no clinic you should trust more than The James Clinic.
An advanced lipid panel allows our practitioners to see a complete picture of their patient’s cardiovascular health, which is paramount in helping us implement proactive healthcare.
We work tirelessly to determine the root cause of your health problems so we can start treatment as soon as possible.
We’re ready to help! Request a consult today.