Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cholesterol FYI

Yes, I have cholesterol on the brain, both literally and figuratively. So this article from was timely.

Critical Things to Know about Your Cholesterol

This portion was especially interesting:
4. You may need an "inflammation" test.

"The math used to estimate your heart disease risk is a little misleading. If your LDL rises above the danger line of 160 or your HDL drops below 50, the math says you have an elevated risk of a heart attack within 10 years. But that warning may actually underestimate your risks beyond 10 years, Morris says. So when she has a female patient with cholesterol numbers in the intermediate range -- LDL above 130 or HDL under 60 -- she often takes a close look at the woman's whole-body inflammation level.

You can't see this kind of inflammation, but it's actually an independent measure of heart attack risk. You measure it by adding a test for high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) to the usual cholesterol blood work. CRP, essentially a body chemical, usually rises anytime your body becomes inflamed. And since artery clogging is associated with inflammation, high CRP is viewed as a marker for clogged arteries. That means your C-reactive protein levels may help you and your doctor decide how aggressively you need to control borderline-high-cholesterol levels with drugs, diet, and exercise."

I had the high-sensitive C-reactive protein test and it came back normal. But I thought the explanation was helpful.

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