Which Heart Tests Are Needed To Assess Risks?

by
Filed Under: Diagnostic Tools, Q&As, Heart Health
Last Reviewed 02/25/2014

Which Heart Tests Are Needed To Assess Risks?

My father died at age 45 from coronary thrombosis. My brother just died at age 59 of the same problem, and he had four stents. Are there any heart tests that can predict risk factors of heart disease?

Since coronary thrombosis runs in your family, I first recommend either the Vertical Auto Profile (VAP) test or the Lipoprotein Particle Profile (LPP) test. These newer cholesterol tests go beyond the standard (and woefully insufficient) blood lipid tests most doctors use to check cholesterol levels. They measure many different elements in your blood and determine if there are patterns in your blood fats that may lead to inflammation, which, in my opinion, is the core cause of heart disease. Learn more about these two cholesterol tests.

Tests for Blood Inflammation

Also of critical importance, you need to have your blood tested for certain blood inflammation markers, which include elevated levels of:

  • Homocysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid that is highly toxic to blood vessels. It leads to endothelial dysfunction that results in accelerated aging, and it fuels inflammatory states that can cause atherosclerosis.

  • Lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a), which is a highly inflammatory form of cholesterol that increases the stickiness of blood and can make developing a blood clot much more likely. Blood clots, of course, cause heart attacks and strokes.

  • Fibrinogen, a protein that enables your platelets to clump together and helps determine the stickiness of your blood. You need adequate fibrinogen levels to stop bleeding when you’ve been cut, but higher-than-normal levels have been associated with too much blood clotting.

  • C-reactive protein (CRP), a little-known marker of heart disease. When found in elevated levels, this blood protein may indicate risk factors of heart attack and stroke.

Additional Recommended Heart Tests

In addition, I recommend having a fasting blood sugar test (an HbA1c test) and a fasting insulin test. The results will help to determine whether you are at risk for metabolic syndrome—a widespread precursor to diabetes and heart disease.

Finally, I would have some genetic testing done to check for the APO E4 allele. APO refers to a blood protein involved in fat metabolism, and alleles are combinations of genes. The presence of two alleles identified as E4 in these proteins suggests you may be susceptible to higher Lp(a) and triglyceride levels, lower HDL cholesterol levels and higher risk factors of heart disease.

Learn More From Dr. Sinatra

Related Articles & Categories
Enjoy What You've Just Read?

Get it delivered to your inbox! Signup for E-News and you'll get great content like you've just read along with other great tips and guides from Dr. Sinatra!