There has been a lot of talk about cholesterol recently in the news. This is largely due to one startling statistic to which most people are unaware: 50% of people who have heart attacks have "normal" cholesterol. What??? Stated differently, that means that half of all heart attack victims may have had a routine cholesterol test done on the very day they had the heart attack and felt fine because their cholesterol (by routine testing standards) was "normal." So, why do so many practitioners use a diagnostic test that is only 50% accurate?
The reason is simple: that's what doctors have been using for years, decades really. But now there is more accurate testing available. Basically, it's an evolution of the former, out-dated cholesterol testing. Knowing your HDL and LDL - the "good" and "bad" cholesterol is only the beginning. SpectraCell’s LPP (Lipoprotein Particle Profile) test goes much, much further.
Here is the basic scenario of heart disease: When our blood vessels are "scratched," or injured, plaque builds up in our arteries to repair the injury, sort of like a scab on the inside of the blood vessel, causing reduced blood flow. Since plaque buildup is our bodies' response to injury of the blood vessels, reducing the injury to our arteries is key.
That's where cholesterol comes in. Actually, cholesterol is good. Everyone needs it. In fact, it protects us in many ways. Cholesterol is actually a response to vascular injury - not the cause of it. Cholesterol is really not the culprit. Lipoproteins are. Lipoproteins are what "scratch" or "burrow" into our arteries causing injury. They are actually tiny balls in our blood that carry the cholesterol, our vascular scapegoat. Lipoproteins are what do the damage, not the cholesterol inside them. In fact, a lipoprotein can be almost empty of cholesterol and it can still wreak havoc on our arteries, depending on its size and characteristics. Cholesterol is really just along for the ride. Lipoproteins, at least the dangerous ones, are the real villain.
There are different sizes of lipoproteins. In general, bigger is better. Here's why: Larger, fluffier LDL particles cannot lodge into your arteries (which is an injury to the artery) as easily as the smaller LDL particles can. Less injury to the artery means less plaque formation and clearer, more pliable blood vessels - a good thing. So it is imperative to understand what kind of LDL (low density lipoproteins) you have floating around in your blood. There are some that are extraordinarily dangerous and some that are completely benign.
For example, RLP (also called remnant lipoprotein) has been cited by the government as a very high risk factor for heart disease. But statins, which lower LDL, will do nothing to help your RLP. Omega 3 fatty acids effectively lower RLP. So, if you don't know what kind of lipoproteins you have, you're shooting in the dark in terms of what treatments you should take.
Here's another example: Lp(a) - so dangerous that it is sometimes called the widowmaker - is lowered by the simple vitamin B3 (also called niacin). Again, you may be taking statins or fish oil pills, but they won't affect Lp(a). You can see why measuring just plain old LDL is certainly not enough. That is why 50% of the people who have fatal heart attacks have "normal" cholesterol - they are not getting the right cholesterol/ lipoprotein test done.
Here's the best part: SpectraCell's LPP test costs about the same as an outdated cholesterol test and it is also usually covered by insurance. Why wouldn't you want an LPP done?