What are the Best Lab Tests for Heart Disease?

I want to continue the conversation about lab tests for heart disease. According the American Heart Association, "1 in 2 American women dies from cardiovascular disease: it claims the lives of nearly 500,000 women each year. That’s about one death every minute."

Knowing what our lab tests reveal can help empower us.

In addition to the normal tests that are taken during your annual physical, a few other tests are recommended for you if you have had heart disease in the past or if you have a family history of heart disease.

C-reactive protein (CRP)

C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation that is produced by the liver in response to infection or injury to cells of the body. This is a general marker for inflammation and not specific to heart disease alone.

It is being used more and more as a predictor of increased heart disease since inflammation is the key process for plaque and blood vessel damage. People that smoke, do not exercise and are overweight or obese are more likely to have higher CRP values.

The normal values for CRP:

  • Low less than 1.0 mg/L
  • Average 1.0-3.0 mg/L
  • High greater than 3.0 mg/L

Homocysteine

Homocysteine is an amino acid found in the blood and in all cells of the body. High levels in the blood are being called predictive for blood vessel, peripheral artery disease (blood vessel disease in your arms, legs, hands and feet), heart disease or stroke.

Medical research is not sure exactly how homocysteine levels cause disease but there is a link between high levels and damage to the blood vessel and formation of blood clots.

  • Normal homocysteine levels 4.4 - 10.8 µmol/L
  • High homocysteine levels are above 10.9 µmol/L

Fibrinogen

Fibrinogen is an inactive protein that circulates in your blood to help your blood clot. When you have higher levels in your blood than normal, it can cause your blood to clot, which can cause blockages in a blood vessel resulting in a heart attack or stroke.

High levels may also mean you have atherosclerosis, hardening of the blood vessels.

  • Normal levels are 200-400 mg/L
  • High levels are greater than 400 mg/L

There are activities that can increase fibrinogen levels which include:

  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excessive amount of alcohol in the diet
  • Taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

NMR LipoProfile

Through the advances in medical research we now know that the particle number of LDL cholesterol (LDL-P) is a strong, independent predictor of heart disease.

This test also provides the conventional particle size of the LDL cholesterol as well. This is a better predictor than the traditional lipid panel LDL cholesterol.

  • Low < 1000 (nmol/L)
  • Borderline 1300- 1599 (nmol/L)
  • High > 2000 (nmol/L)

Since heart disease damages our body without our knowledge it is important to have lab tests done each year to teach us about what is going on inside of us. Take your tests and empower yourself and your health.

Live Vibrantly,

Dr. Dae

Originally published at http://www.empowher.com/heart-amp-blood/content/what-are-best-lab-tests-heart-disease

Picture courtesy Oleksandr Bilozerov/PhotoSpin