When To Undergo In-Depth Cholesterol Tests

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Heart health or lack of it always has something to do with digits. You have to undergo tests and know the numbers of your cholesterol, bad LDL, good LDL and other important blood parameters. However, researchers believe that undergoing the next check up and lab work might add items to the parameters.

Many physicians are going beyond the standard parameters of cholesterol tests in order to get a more specific look at the number of bad cholesterol—a measurement of the number of molecules that carry the LDL or bad cholesterol through the blood stream.

Many cardiologists have differing opinions about the usefulness of this diagnostic approach. The proponents argue that it will help them, as health professionals, in targeting and spotting the patients who are at risk, more importantly those patients whose regular check ups and lab works might miss. These tests will also help them be more informed about the correct ways of treating the patients.

However, in so far as major organizations are concerned, no recommendations about these extra tests were included in the guidelines yet. These additional tests are more costly than the regular blood chemistry exams, and although HMOs and other insurance companies may subsidize or pay for these tests, what these tests mean still have no clear bearing.

“I see a lot of people being confused,” according to Dr. Nieca Goldberg of New York University Langone Medical Center and the American Heart Association. Especially when they’re used on lower-risk people, “you don’t know how to make sense of the information.”

“For most people, the standard lipid profile is fine,” says Dr. Michael Davidson of the University of Chicago. But “I get referred people who said, ‘My cholesterol was fine, why do I have heart disease?’ We’re showing them, well, because your particle number’s sky high and they were not aware that was a problem.”

Cholesterol is not the sole factor behind every heart disease. Many other factors may also be considered like high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, diabetes or a strong family history of the disease. These factors can put someone at a great risk for heart diseases even if they have good cholesterol digits.

On the cholesterol front, doctors have long focused on three key numbers:

—Total cholesterol should be below 200.

—An LDL or “bad” cholesterol level below 130 is good for healthy people, but someone with heart disease or diabetes should aim for under 100.

—For HDL, the “good” cholesterol that helps control the bad kind, higher numbers are better — 60 is protective while below 40 is a risk.

“We could be treating some people who don’t need to be treated … and we may be missing some people who should be treated,” says lead researcher Dr. David Goff Jr. of Wake Forest University. “But I’d also say that we haven’t done all the research that needs to be done to prove that this will lead to better patient outcomes.”





  1. Tom Hartman says:

    Read “The Cholesterol Delusion” by Dr. Ernest Curtis, and you will stop taking cholesterol medicines. The pharmaceutical companies have invented a problem in order to sell billions of dollars in unnecessary medication. Read the book.


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