Ways to track your risk for cardiovascular disease
Carotid Ultrasound IMT Score
Not surprisingly perhaps, the health of the carotid arteries (the ones that carry oxygen and nutrients to the brain) can give great insight into the health of the cardiovascular system overall. It is also a quick, noninvasive, and easy measurement to take and without radiation.
The exam determines the thickness of the artery wall and compares the ratio of the endothelium (the thin, innermost layer of a blood vessel) to the medial (or middle layer). This will give you an Intema Media Thickness Score, which will tell you the amount of plaque in your carotid artery and which will indirectly give you an indication of what the plaque is probably like in the rest of your arteries sand more directly what your risk is of experiencing a stroke. It is noninvasive and requires no X-ray and can be used to track your plaque. It is also covered by most insurance companies.
Genova Diagnostics Cardiovascular Health Plus Genomics
This comprehensive blood test analyzes lipid markers and advanced markers for cardiovascular disease as well as a patient’s genomic predisposition to cardiovascular disease. It includes the genomic markers APOE, MTHFR (the enzyme in folate metabolism), and Factor II and Factor V (causes increased risk of blood clots). Advanced markers include LDL-particle number, HDL-particle number, LDL-size, hs-CRP, Lp(a), Lp-PLA2, homocysteine level, fibrinogen level, and insulin resistance score. This is a very economical test that gives a tremendous amount of information that by modifying the risk factors, can save your life.
The Berkeley Heartlab
This is the most comprehensive cardiac panel, but it is rather expensive. It includes LDL particle size as a distribution of seven subclasses, HDL particle size as a distribution of five subclasses, Apo B, Lp(a), homocysteine, APOE, LPA aspirin check genotype test, statin check genotype test, Lp-PLA2, hs-CRP, insulin, WT-pro BWP (detection of clinical and subclinical cardiac dysfunction), and Q-LDL (atherogenic subclass of ventilation). The Berkeley Heartlab is an excellent test and also offers a 4MyHeart program for disease management.
The Vertical Auto Profile (VAP)
A vertical auto profile is a more thorough test for different types of cholesterol. While it tests LDL and HDL levels, it also breaks down further into subcategories that research is finding have greater value. For instance, they test for two forms of HDL cholesterol, commonly referred to as HDL1 and HDL2, of which HDL2 is the more important to cardiovascular health. In other words, a high HDL count in a normal cholesterol test could be slightly misleading if it was mostly HDL1, or a low HDL level could be better if it was almost all HDL2. It also test LDL subcategories and for Lp(a) levels. The VAP uses a blood sample just as standard blood test do, even though the feedback is much more specific.
The NMR lipoprofile uses a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to give a quick, snapshot measurement of the size and number of LDL particles as well those of HDL and VLDL (very-low-density lipoproteins). This information allows doctors and patients to design more specific treatment programs tan standard cholesterol tests. It is not the level of overall LDL that is dangerous as much as it is the number of LDL particles. Also, VLDL particles have been shown to be just as dangerous if not more dangerous than simple LDL because they have a tendency to increase the number of LDL clusters and weaken the effectiveness of HDL particles. Thankfully, VLDL responds to many of the same interventions as triglycerides and LDL do.