If you really want to find out the risk your cholesterol levels pose, you shouldn’t rely on a traditional lipid panel to do the job. Such cholesterol tests measure total LDL, HDL, and triglycerides, and they’re what most doctors will order—but they’re outdated!
Granted, standard blood lipid tests are useful for determining whether your ratio of total HDL to LDL cholesterol is within a healthy range. But those cholesterol tests won’t tell you about your HDL and LDL fractions (that is, whether you have predominantly small dense cholesterol particles, or large buoyant ones).
Particle size is extraordinarily important, because research shows that small dense LDL cholesterol is inflammatory and toxic to blood vessels. Even more troubling is a high level of Lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a)—the most dangerous blood lipids. Lp(a) is a specific type of small LDL cholesterol particle that inflames the blood and makes it sticky—patients with Lp(a) are more prone to clotting.
The Best Cholesterol Tests
Obviously, the more of the dangerous cholesterol particles you have, the more aggressively you’ll need to treat your cholesterol level—because the more you have, the greater your risk for cardiovascular disease. That’s why it’s imperative that you talk to your doctor about the two specific cholesterol tests: the Vertical Auto Profile (VAP) test or the Lipoprotein Particle Profile (LPP) test.
Vertical Auto Profile (VAP) test. This test will analyze your LDL cholesterol and determine if it is made up of predominantly the small, dangerous particles or larger, more benign particles. It will also tell you how much Lp(a) is circulating in your blood. In addition, the VAP test breaks out your HDL cholesterol subtypes, letting you know if you have more of the HDL2 subtype, which is most beneficial. You can find out more about the VAP test at www.atherotech.com.
Lipoprotein Particle Profile (LPP) test. The LPP test also breaks down cholesterol into fractions smaller than LDL and HDL and analyzes the particles comprising each of them, just like the VAP test. But I believe the LPP test has an advantage over the VAP test, because its methodology allows for more precise measurements and because it can also measure remnant lipoprotein (RLP), which is a more threatening type of cholesterol that isn’t singled out by most other cholesterol tests. You can find out more about the LPP test at www.spectracell.com.
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