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Aashish, a 34 year old IT professional, underwent a lipid profile as part of his annual health check up and to his surprise his lipid profile was deranged, which means way out of the normal range. His doctor started him on statins. He was also asked to check his diet and exercise regularly. However, his case is not unique; there are a lot of people who are diagnosed with dyslipidemia or deranged lipid profile indicating a problem of lipoprotein metabolism, deficiency or overproduction. However, a lipid profile test is not talked about or discussed as much as it should be.
Here is what you need to know about lipid profile?
Lipid or fat is synthesised in the liver and then transported to the tissues in your body through blood. Fat is essential for carrying out vital functions in your body. But when fat is in excess, it starts getting deposited in your blood vessels i.e., the arteries, narrowing them and hence reducing the blood supply. This can be very dangerous and can damage your vital organs like heart and brain. The lipid profile is a part of your cardiac risk assessment. Other factors to be considered are hypertension, smoking, diabetes, past history or family history of cardiac diseases. Read: Everything you wanted to know about cholesterol, lipid profile, VLDL, HDL and triglycerides
What tests do you need to go through to check your lipid profile?
Remember all lipid profile investigations need to be done after a minimum of eight hours of fasting. It is usually advised that the concerned person consume a minimal fatty diet for a period of a week before the test is done. Almost all the tests are done at all labs and hospitals. Blood is drawn from the forearm after cleaning the area with a sterile swab. The blood is then subjected to the following tests:
1) Total cholesterol: This measures the total cholesterol in your body, usually a value less than 150 mg/ dl is considered healthy.
2) HDL cholesterol: Also, known as high-density lipoprotein, it is called the good cholesterol as it helps to clear the cholesterol from the blood mobilising it to the liver for excretion. It should be more than 40 mg/ dl and higher values are associated with protection against heart diseases. It's a well-known fact that exercise and red wine have been known to raise the value of HDL. Read: 5 simple ways to increase good cholesterol (HDL) level
3) LDL cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein or the bad cholesterol is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. LDL transports cholesterol from the liver to the peripheral tissues. A value less than 130 mg/ dl is considered normal in an individual without any associated risk factor and a value less than 100 mg/ dl is to be maintained if the person has two or more risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, past history or family history of cardiac event. Read: Try soya beans to lower your cholesterol
4) Triglycerides: It measures the total triglycerides in the lipoproteins. The normal values are less than 150 mg/dl and higher values are associated with a risk of cardiovascular diseases as they deposit in the arteries causing atherosclerosis compromising the blood flow. Read: How to reduce triglyceride levels naturally (Disease query of the day)
What are the other tests that can diagnose your risk of developing a coronary artery disease?
5) hsCRP - Blood is drawn from the forearm and hsCRP ( high sensitivity C reactive protein) is calculated. It is a marker of inflammation and plays a role in atherosclerosis and is useful in determining the risk of development of coronary artery disease. A value less than 1.0 mg/ L indicates low risk, 1.0 to 3.0mg/ L indicates average risk and a value more than 3 mg/ L indicates high risk. This test is available at specialized labs and costs around rupees eight hundred to thousand.
6) LpPLA2- Also, known as lipoprotein phospholipiprotein A2 is the latest test wherein the blood sample drawn from your arm can determine your risk of development of cardiovascular disease. It is a marker for inflammation, and high levels are associated with atherosclerosis or formation of plaques in your arteries. This test is available at very few centres in our country, a Lp-PLA2 levels less than 200ng/ ml are optimal, values of 200-235ng/ ml indicate moderate risk and values more than 235 mg/ ml indicates high risk. It is a very expensive test and the price varies from one lab to the other.
7) CT angiography: A technique that can visualise your arteries and look for the presence of plaques (collection of cholesterol and other things which eventually block and narrow your arteries compromising the blood flow and can result in heart attacks and stroke). Done at sophisticated radiology centres, it is a ten-minute procedure in which a dye is injected and the blood vessels are visualised. Urea and creatinine levels are checked to see kidney functions prior to the test so as to see if you are susceptible to any reactions. You will have to inform your doctor if you are pregnant or if you have taken any medications or suffer from any drug allergy before doing this test. This test costs around rupees ten thousand.
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