SpectraCell Blog

Clearing Up the Cholesterol Confusion

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Thu, Feb 01, 2018 @ 01:52 PM

heart apple.jpgConsider this startling statistic: 50% of people who have heart attacks have "normal" cholesterol.  Stated differently, half of all heart attack victims could have a routine cholesterol test done on the very day they have a heart attack and their cholesterol (by routine testing standards) would be "normal" range. So, why do so many practitioners use a diagnostic test that is only 50% accurate?  The reason is simple:  it’s the test with which they are familiar and have been using for decades.  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.  
 
That's where cholesterol comes in. 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. 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.
 
For 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, which are best lowered by high dose omega 3 fatty acids. 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. You can see why measuring just plain old cholesterol 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 often covered by insurance. Why wouldn't you want an LPP® done?

Topics: Heart Attack, Heart Disease, Heart Health, Cholesterol, Standard Cholesterol Testing, Lipoprotein Particles, HDL, LDL and HDL, Lower LDL, Plaque Formation

Lipoprotein(a) and L-carnitine

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 @ 02:24 PM

Lipoprotein(a) and L-carnitine

heart-health.gifMost people assume that standard cholesterol testing offers an adequate assessment of heart disease risk. If you, like many, have never heard of a lipoprotein profile test, you may be surprised to learn that this test assesses an important risk factor called Lipoprotein(a) or Lp(a) (“lipoprotein little a”). Influenced by genetics and strongly linked to heart disease and blood clotting problems, this risk factor unfortunately is not part of routine cholesterol tests or standard lipid panels. In fact, lipoprotein(a) is so strongly linked to heart disease, that it is one of the four lipid-related risk factors cited by the National Institutes of Health National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) as worthy of monitoring. Unfortunately, Lp(a) has been notoriously difficult to treat pharmacologically, as statins have shown little efficacy in lowering Lp(a) levels*.

In a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, patients with elevated cholesterol and elevated Lp(a) were divided into two groups, each with 29 people: Group 1 received a statin only and Group 2 received the same statin plus 2 grams/day of L-carnitine, a supplement that plays a key role in fatty acid transport within cells. After 12 weeks, the group receiving only a statin showed about a 7% reduction in Lp(a), but the group receiving the L-carnitine in conjunction with the statin demonstrated over 19% reduction in Lp(a) levels. Authors suggest that co-administration of L-carnitine (whose primary function is fatty acid metabolism), may enhance efforts to lower Lp(a) compared to using a statin alone.

* See our blog post, “Shedding some light on cholesterol,” from January 19, 2017. 

For additional reading refer to the abstract L-Carnitine/Simvastatin Reduces Lipoprotein (a) Levels Compared with Simvastatin Monotherapy: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study published in the January 2017 issue of Lipids

 



 

Topics: Lipoprotein(a), L-carnitine, Lower Lipoprotein(a), Standard Cholesterol Testing, Heart Disease, Heart Health

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