Most adults who are getting regular preventive healthcare are familiar with the lipid panel performed as a routine check for cholesterol levels. What they may not know is that the standard lipid panel can only identify about 40% of the people who are at high risk for heart disease. The result of this is that many adults mistakenly believe they have reduced their heart attack risk when they are actually carrying around ticking time bombs that could be defused with improved treatment.
While the exact treatment for blood lipid problems varies, doctors seldom consider any such treatments without the test data to justify them. You could argue that the conventional cholesterol test actually increases the risk for heart attacks by leaving people unwisely complacent because of incomplete and inaccurate information about the nature of the fats in their blood. For instance, the LDL cholesterol number for “bad” cholesterol in the conventional tests is just a calculated estimate, not a direct measurement. It could be off significantly.
The VAP Cholesterol Test
A newer procedure called the VAP™ Blood Test (for Vertical Auto Profile) helps improve the ability to identify blood lipid patterns associated with heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. Atherotech, the company providing the test, estimates that it can identify twice as many patients at high risk for heart attacks than regular cholesterol lipid panel tests and also identify patients likely to develop type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease that may not lead to heart attacks.
Statins are a now famous (or infamous, depending upon your viewpoint) class of medicine used widely in American medicine. While studies do show they help reduce total and LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, there are serious side effects to these medicines. They can lead to lethargy, headaches, muscle weakness, confusion, memory loss, and other side effects. More ominously, a recent study of Crestor (a statin drug) showed an increase in type 2 diabetes rates for those using the drug versus the control group using a placebo.
High Cholesterol Just Small Part of Cardiovascular Health Risks
Many people have the mistaken impression that high cholesterol is the biggest risk to your cardiovascular health. This isn’t likely true. There are a large variety of risks that are likely to be even more significant than high cholesterol levels. Many of them are not commonly tested for by doctors. Too many in the medical establishment have bought into “big pharma” pushing of statin drugs as the ultimate solution as they inaccurately believe high total and LDL cholesterol are the exclusive risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. As cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Michael Ozner points out in his book The Great American Heart Hoax: Lifesaving Advice Your Doctor Should Tell You About Heart Disease Prevention (But Probably Never Will), many of the therapies and surgeries for cardiovascular disease that are common in the United States are probably unnecessary, raise health care expenses, and don’t really improve overall outcomes. Much better than surgeries would be to prevent cardiovascular disease in the first place. But there are many risks that must be managed.