If you want to know your heart attack risk, you get your cholesterol checked, right? Wrong! Cholesterol tests fail to identify almost half of people at risk for having a heart attack, stroke or other potentially deadly cardiovascular issues.
With cardiovascular disease as the number one cause of death in the United States, causing an astonishing 2,200 deaths every day, doctors include a cholesterol test as part of every checkup. Unfortunately, relying on total cholesterol, LDL and HDL levels is often not enough to accurately assess your cardiovascular health.
Fortunately, there are newer, more effective tests that can better predict your cardiovascular risk. These 10 lifesaving blood tests include:
- C-reactive protein (CRP) – protein produced by the liver increases during whole-body inflammation. In the long term such inflammation can damage healthy tissue and lead to heart disease.
- Homocysteine – amino acid that is thought to damage the cells that line your arteries.
- Triglycerides – a form of fat made in the body that is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
- Apolipoprotein B (Apo B) – major protein found in cholesterol particles, forming the majority of the LDL cholesterol particles.
- Lipoprotein(a) – made up of LDL cholesterol particles attached to a protein called apo(a), which inflames the blood and makes it more prone to clotting.
- Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL) – contains highest triglyceride levels and helps cholesterol build up on the walls of arteries.
- LDL size – LDL particles range in size from large and buoyant to small and dense, which easily invades the artery wall and begins the process of atherosclerosis.
- Hemoglobin A1C – shows your average blood sugar levels over the past 2 to 3 months and correlates well with your heart disease risk.
- Fibrinogen – protein found in the blood that makes it sticky and helps it clot; having too much fibrinogen can cause a clot to form in an artery, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
- Cardiac troponin – indicates that damage has been done to the heart.
You can get more information about these tests and other blood panels that can be used to help diagnosis potentially serious conditions, as well as improve your overall health, through the Blood Test Results Decoded program. This program was designed to help you understand what your blood tests are telling you so you can start a conversation with your doctor about optimizing your health instead of blindly guessing at what’s wrong and what diet, vitamins, minerals and other supplements could help prevent potential disease and help you feel better, more energetic and more like the you that you always knew you should be.