Until now, there hasn’t been a test that could measure your risk factor for stroke. The latest technology gives us, for the first time, a conclusive test for stroke risk. The PLAC test, as it’s called, detects the presence of an enzyme that could lead to a stroke. Scientists have identified an enzyme called lipoprotein associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2 for short) that’s involved in the inflammation of blood vessels. This inflammation contributes to both plaque formation and instability, and your risk factor for stroke. Eventually the unstable plaque can rupture, turning potentially lethal clots and debris loose in your bloodstream—causing a stroke or a heart attack.
Studying Risk Factors for Stroke
Results from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study performed by the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute demonstrated that folks with elevated Lp-PLA2 had double the risk of suffering an ischemic stroke over a six to eight year period compared to those with low Lp-PLA2. This risk factor for stroke was found for everyone, not just those with other cardiac risk factors such as smoking, diabetes or obesity. Moreover, when high Lp-PLA2 was combined with high systolic blood pressure (more than 140 mmHg), it created six times the risk of developing a stroke. This result makes it quite clear that anyone with high blood pressure and elevated Lp-PLA2 needs to take very aggressive preventive measures to avoid stroke risk factors.
If you have risk factors for stroke—especially high blood pressure—ask your physician to do a PLAC test. Other common stroke risk factors include a family history, race (African-Americans are at higher risk), advancing age, diabetes, obesity, arterial disease, atrial fibrillation, valvular heart disease, tobacco use, high levels of inflammatory markers such as CRP and interleukin-6 and an HDL cholesterol level less than 40.
For more information on the test, visit the Web site www.plactest.com.
More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Heart Disease Tests
What other heart disease tests should you consider? Get information on the array of heart disease tests I use when evaluating and treating my own patients.
Undergoing heart disease testing but unsure what your scores indicate? Get my Sinatra Smart Zone values for a wide array of heart health tests to ensure optimal heart health.
Want to read detailed questions and answers about different heart disease tests? Check out the Q&A section of my Heart Disease Tests Health Center.