Why your cholesterol test can lie

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| By Dr. Stephen Sinatra

If you really want to find out the risk your cholesterol levels pose, you shouldn’t rely on a traditional lipid panel to do the job. Such cholesterol tests measure total LDL, HDL, and triglycerides, and they’re what most doctors will order—but they’re outdated!

 Why Your Cholesterol Test Can LieGranted, standard blood lipid tests are useful for determining whether your ratio of total HDL to LDL cholesterol is within a healthy range. But those cholesterol tests won’t tell you about your HDL and LDL fractions (that is, whether you have predominantly small dense cholesterol particles, or large buoyant ones).

Particle size is extraordinarily important, because research shows that small dense LDL cholesterol is inflammatory and toxic to blood vessels. Even more troubling is a high level of Lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a)—the most dangerous blood lipids. Lp(a) is a specific type of small LDL cholesterol particle that inflames the blood and makes it sticky—patients with Lp(a) are more prone to clotting.

The Best Cholesterol Tests

Obviously, the more of the dangerous cholesterol particles you have, the more aggressively you’ll need to treat your cholesterol level—because the more you have, the greater your risk for cardiovascular disease. That’s why it’s imperative that you talk to your doctor about the three specific cholesterol tests:

These tests examine the types of cholesterol particles in your blood which gives you and your doctor a far more accurate profile of your cardiovascular risk than standard cholesterol tests alone.

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