Blood Tests Reveal Risk Factors
Blood tests are also very useful in determining a persons cardiovascular risk:
- High blood levels of the cholesterol found in smaller, denser LDL (sdLDL-C) particles are associated with atherosclerosis—the build-up of fatty materials in arteries—increasing the risk for CVD events.
- Lp(a) is an LDL-like particle with a protein known as apo(a) attached to it. An elevated level of Lp(a) is an independent risk factor for heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases.
- ApoB is a marker for the number of cholesterol carrying particles in the blood that cause atherosclerosis. Elevated levels are significant predictors of heart disease and are a more reliable indicator of CVD risk than LDL-C.
- CRP is produced in response to inflammation and excess deposition of cholesterol and other fats in the liver and other tissues. High levels predict CVD events, and CRP is a useful monitoring tool after initiating treatment.
- LpPLA2 is an enzyme produced by a type of white blood cell that causes inflammation in artery walls. Increased blood levels are associated with increased atherosclerosis. This test is also known as the PLAC test.
- Homocysteine is an amino acid that is produced by the body from the breakdown of methionine, an essential amino acid we receive from protein-rich foods. High levels of homocysteine are linked to a variety of specific health problems and are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, peripheral artery disease, stroke and osteoporosis.
Know Your Blood Pressure Numbers
While "normal" blood pressure is considered to be 120/80. Optimal blood pressure is considered to be in the range of 110-120/70-80. Over 50 million people in the U.S. have hypertension, or high blood pressure, making it the most common heart disease risk factor. One in four adults has systolic blood pressure (the upper number) over 140, and/or diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) over 90, which is the definition of hypertension.
|Blood Pressure Category||Systolic mm Hg (upper #)||Diastolic mm Hg (lower #)|
|Normal||less than 120||and||less than 80|
|Prehypertension||120 – 139||or||80 – 89|
|High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1
|140 – 159||or||90 – 99|
|High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2
|160 or higher||or||100 or higher|
(Emergency care needed)
|Higher than 180||or||Higher than 110|