What does this test measure?
While most widely recognised, cholesterol is only one of many cardiovascular health markers and levels of triglycerides, HDL and LDL are much more meaningful than total cholesterol. The Cardiovascular risk profile also includes Lp(a), homocysteine and ADMA, biomarkers involved in inflammation and endothelial function, which impact blood flow and are independent markers of cardiovascular health.
Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body. They store unused calories and provide your body with energy. If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, particularly from high-carbohydrate foods, you may have high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia). Triglycerides account for more than 90% of dietary intake and comprise 95% of fat in stored tissues. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. High triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls (arteriosclerosis) — which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.
Looking at ratios of certain lipids can be more helpful than looking at each lipid in isolation. The HDL/LDL ratio is an important measurement value used to assess the risk of cardiovascular diseases. By measuring the ratio between HDL and LDL, we get an idea of a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. HDL carries LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where LDL is broken down and excreted as bile. For this reason, higher HDL is considered protective against heart disease.
Lp(a) is a is a small, dense, highly inflammatory lipoprotein and its level is strongly influenced by genetics. Like LDL, Lp(a) can build up in the walls of your blood vessels. The higher your Lp(a) level is, the more likely this is to happen. There is a strong correlation between Lp(a) levels and people with who have a history of familial hypercholesterolemia. Lp(a) has been shown to promote inflammation and increase the likelihood of plaque buildup.
Homocysteine is made from the break-down of protein in the diet. We require certain nutrients for this process to work effectively, including folic acid, riboflavin (B2) and vitamin B6. High homocysteine levels lead to blood clots and damage to the lining of your arteries (endothelial injury). It is for this reason that homocysteine is regarded as a risk factor for non-coronary atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.
Asymmetric dimethylarginine, ADMA is a naturally occurring chemical found in blood. ADMA impairs endothelial function which plays a crucial role the maintenance of vascular tone. Studies have shown endothelial dysfunction to predict the presence of cardiovascular disease and future cardiovascular events. ADMA levels are increased in people with raised cholesterol, atherosclerosis, raised blood pressure, chronic heart failure, diabetes and chronic renal failure. Increased levels of ADMA have been shown to be a strong risk predictor of cardiovascular events.
Who should take this test?
Your nutritionist may have recommended this test due to the presence of one or more of the following:
- Family/personal history of heart disease or stroke
- Poor diet, high stress levels, use of alcohol, nicotine or drugs
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid Disorders
- Please stop taking all supplements for three days ahead of your blood test, particularly B vitamins
- Please fast from midnight for this test
- We can facilitate phlebotomy and courier of the samples from our clinic in Dublin
- The test results will be returned to your nutritionist within 3 weeks of receipt of the sample. Test results will be interpreted by your nutritionist and a protocol tailored accordingly
- While our Nurse is expertly trained in phlebotomy and rarely has an issue in obtaining blood samples, should it happen that she is unable to take the blood sample from you, we will refund you the cost of the test.