The way most doctors test for heart disease is with a lipid panel. I'm sure you have all seen them. Your doctor talks to you about keeping your total cholesterol under 200, lowering your LDL (the bad cholesterol), raising your HDL (the good cholesterol) and the ratios among these different lipids. But are traditional lipid panels and known risk factors like smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes enough to really predict your risk of heart disease and stroke? And what if you've already had a heart attack or stroke? Are these numbers enough to manage your disease?
You may be surprised to learn that 50% of people with normal cholesterol levels have heart attacks. That's why we offer the Berkeley HeartLab advanced lipid and genetic testing. You can't change your genetics, but you can modify your risk factors. For example, the actual LDL (bad cholesterol) number may be low, let's say 100, but the number of particles and the size of the particles that make up that number can vary widely. We want fewer particles and larger particles because they don't cross the artery membrane to form plaques leading to atherosclerosis. You can't determine that with traditional testing. If you KNOW what you're dealing with, you can often take supplements such as Co-Q10, and omega 3s to shift the particles to a safer size.
This is just one thing we look at on a Berkeley HeartLab profile. We look at your risk of developing diabetes; your Vitamin D level; your genetics tell us if you are at risk for aneurysms and Alzheimer's disease. And if you already have plaque buildup, it will tell us if that plaque is stable or prone to rupture which causes heart attacks and strokes. Many patients are time bombs that feel perfectly normal.