SpectraCell Blog

Shedding Some Light on Cholesterol

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 @ 12:54 PM

improve-heart-health-naturally_cropped.jpgDid you know that everything you’ve learned about cholesterol and its association with heart attacks is only partly correct? Consider this startling statistic: 50% of people who have suffered a heart attack, have "normal" cholesterol. Another way of saying this is that among heart attack victims, standard cholesterol testing would have detected “normal” ranges in half of this population had it been performed on the day of their event. This begs the question: why do so many practitioners use a diagnostic test that only identifies 50% of those at risk? The reason is simple: it is the test with which they are familiar and has been in use for decades. But did you know that HDL and LDL (the “good” and “bad” cholesterol), are only some of the pieces of the puzzle? Knowing your HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol is only the beginning; SpectraCell’s LPP (Lipoprotein Particle Profile) test identifies these and other components, shedding light on a spectrum of factors that provide detailed information about one’s cardiovascular health.

Here is one way to look at heart disease: when blood vessels are injured or inflamed, lipoproteins containing cholesterol and other lipids penetrate the arterial lining and build plaque. This is akin to a scab on the inside of a blood vessel, causing a reduction in blood flow. Since plaque buildup is the physiological response to injured and inflamed vessels, reducing these factors is critical.

This is where cholesterol comes in. Plaque is actually a response to vascular injury - not the cause of it. Cholesterol, a component of plaque, is rarely the culprit, but lipoproteins are. Lipoproteins are particles that penetrate the arterial lining and build plaque as a result of the injury. These tiny particles carry cholesterol (the vascular scapegoat) through the bloodstream, and cause damage (cholesterol is really just one component of lipoproteins). In other words, lipoproteins are often the real villain (some are extraordinarily dangerous, others are completely benign).

Lipoproteins are classified by size. In general, the bigger, the better, and here’s why: larger, fluffier low density lipoprotein (LDL) particles cannot penetrate the arterial lining as easily as smaller LDL particles can. Less injury to the artery over time results in less plaque formation along with clearer, more pliable blood vessels (this is a good thing). Remnant lipoproteins (RLPs) are cited as having a very strong relationship with heart disease. Statins, which are often prescribed to lower LDLs, will do little to lower RLPs – these are best lowered by high-dose omega-3 fatty acids. Understanding one’s own lipoprotein profile (number and type of LDLs) floating in the bloodstream, is key to promoting improved vascular health outcomes through lifestyle change.

Without any objective information regarding one’s lipoprotein profile, many people are simply shooting in the dark in terms of treatment for these types of cardiovascular issues. The message is clear: simply measuring cholesterol without taking into account lipoprotein particle numbers and density is certainly not enough, as suggested by the 50% statistic cited above. Talk to your health care provider about pursuing a lipoprotein profile test to get a comprehensive assessment of your cardiac risk factors. We saved the best part for last: SpectraCell's LPP test costs about the same as an outdated cholesterol test, and is often covered by insurance!



Topics: Cholesterol, Heart Disease, Lipoproteins, Heart Attack, Lipoprotein Particles, LDL and HDL, Standard Cholesterol Testing

SpectraCell Now Offers LPP™ Cardiovascular Testing in New York

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Tue, May 17, 2011 @ 12:56 PM

Lipoprotein Particle Profile TestingSpectraCell Laboratories has officially been granted a license to provide its Lipoprotein Particle Profile™ (LPP™) test, which assesses cardiovascular risk, to New York state physicians and patients. The recently patented LPP™ test has been commercially available to the other 49 states since 2006.

SpectraCell began the process of acquiring a licensure in 2008 with an application submission the state of New York. The laboratory underwent an initial inspection by the New York State Department of Health in late 2009 followed by extensive documentation validating the LPP™ procedure, which is standard protocol required of all diagnostic laboratories. A final inspection in December 2010 concluded the evidentiary process, proving the LPP™ technology is valid, accurate and reproducible.

“Acquiring our New York license allows us to serve the largest metropolitan area in the country,” states Dr. Fred Crawford, PhD, VP of Operations and Laboratory Director at SpectraCell Labs. “In fact, many physicians in the state of New York have wanted to implement the LPP™ test in their practice but were unable to do so until now. Plus, we recently streamlined our LPP™ report using feedback from existing LPP™ clients, making it easier than ever for physicians to translate LPP™ results into clinical decisions.”

New York represents a large market for laboratory testing. According to a CNN report, approximately 40,000 physicians practice within a 30 mile radius of New York City, in contrast to a national average of about 8000 physicians for other American cities.

LPP TestingAfter visiting the laboratory and reviewing the testing protocol, Dr. Robert Rej, Director of Chemistry for the State of New York Department of Health recommended the permit be approved for SpectraCell’s LPP™ testing. The license also allows SpectraCell to add FDA approved chemistry procedures to New York clients. Their first addition will be LpPLA2 testing (lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2) which measures a specific enzyme linked to thrombosis (blood clots), indicating a higher risk of heart attack or stroke.

Just a few months ago, SpectraCell Laboratories was awarded a patent on their Lipoprotein Particle Profile™ (LPP™) test, which measures both the size and number of lipoproteins rather than the cholesterol contained within them. In recent years, more doctors have seen standard cholesterol tests label a patient “normal” when in reality their risk for heart disease is quite high.

Measuring Cholesterol is Not EnoughIn fact, The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) acknowledges that 50% of people that have heart attacks have “normal” cholesterol – that is, cholesterol below 200 mg/dL. The LPP™ test allows physicians to stratify risk more accurately, thus prescribing therapies that will be the most effective, depending on their patients’specific lipid profile.

NCEP recognizes four risk factors that are not measured with routine cholesterol testing but are all measured by the LPP™ test:

  1. RLP – (remnant lipoprotein) more easily converted into arterial plaque than other lipoproteins
  2. Lp(a) – a dangerous lipoprotein that contributes to clot formation
  3. HDL2b – a type of HDL that indicates how well cholesterol is being cleared from your system
  4. Small, dense LDL – easily penetrates vascular wall, causing damage and plaque

The LPP™ is part of the trend toward more individualized medicine. The LPP™ test, which is done on a fasting blood sample, is usually covered by insurance. Results typically take 3-5 days.

Stop by our booths in New York City!

We will be at Booth #28 at the National Lipid Association (NLA) Scientific Session (May 19-22, 2011) and Booth #435 at Pri-Med (June 16-18, 2011)!


Topics: SpectraCell, lipoprotein particle profile, LPP, Cardiovascular Health, Heart Disease, Lipoproteins, Lp(a), Heart Attack, Lipoprotein Particles, NCEP, RLP, New York State License

Clearing up the Cholesterol Confusion – So Your Patient Can Understand It

Posted by Nichole Herms on Mon, Nov 29, 2010 @ 03:09 PM

Heart HealthThere 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.  
Human HeartThat'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.
MedicationsFor 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?

Topics: SpectraCell, lipoprotein particle profile, LPP, Cholesterol, Heart Disease, Lipoproteins, Heart Attack, LDL and HDL