The Low Down on Lipids

by Nicole Maxwell, NMD

Approximately 50% of patients experiencing a heart attack or stroke have “normal” cholesterol levels.  What does it mean to have “normal” lipid levels?  What parameters might be better to check to accurately identify your risk?  

The risk of developing heart disease has traditionally been assessed by measurement of LDL-C (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol; the carrier of “bad” cholesterol) and HDL-C (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol; the carrier of “good” cholesterol). The “C” portion in LDL-C stands for calculation.  Unfortunately, this is not a true value but a calculation based on total cholesterol, triglycerides and HDL-C.  Moreover, the LDL-C is known to be inaccurate, particularly as triglyceride levels have risen with obesity, glucose intolerance and diabetes.  

At BNHC we do comprehensive screenings, including:

  • LDL-P: The “P” stands for particle and we can now measure the LDL directly instead of using a calculation.  The higher the LDL-P the more particles there are in your bloodstream which can build up in the arteries and cause heart disease.
  • VLDL-P: These particles are smaller than LDL-P and can get into the artery walls where dangerous plaque forms.
  • HDL-P: Direct measurement of the HDL particles, which tend to be protective.  HDL-P was found to be a better predictor of cardiovascular disease than HDL-C in many studies.
  • Ox-LDL or oxidized LDL: Plaque-specific and directly involved in atherogenesis and late stage atherosclerotic plaque instability and rupture.
  • Apolipoprotein B (Apo B): This is the sole protein constituent of LDL and a stronger cardiovascular risk factor than LDL-C
  • Lipoprotein a (LpA): This is a particle that carries cholesterol and is inherited from one or both of your parents.  High levels increase one’s risk of atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease and is a leading risk factor for strokes.
  • And more:there are even more parameters we can test to create a better picture of your personal cardiac risk, such as CRPhs a marker for inflammation. 

For a more accurate understanding of your true heart health, consider a comprehensive risk assessment with Dr. Nicole Maxwell at Boise Natural Health Clinic.