Would you be surprised if I told you that just knowing your cholesterol numbers is not enough? Here are some staggering facts:
➡ Coronary Heart Disease accounts for 1 in 7 deaths in the U.S.
➡ Approximately every 40 seconds, an American will have a heart attack
Well-informed patients, confident in their knowledge about cholesterol and where their numbers should be, are probably not aware of the myths surrounding this ever-growing problem.
According to the medical experts, these are the top 5 myths to dispel, and why knowing your cholesterol numbers is not enough.
1. If your “total” cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad type) are “normal,” you don’t need to worry about heart disease. Wrong.
➡ Patients who get their total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol results back as “normal” may actually be at risk because standard cholesterol tests fail to measure many cholesterol abnormalities that can lead to heart disease.
➡ In fact, almost half of all patients who have heart attacks have “normal” cholesterol, as measured by the standard cholesterol test.
2. If I exercise and eat healthily, I don’t need to worry about heart disease. That is not correct.
➡ Many people who’re at risk or have already been diagnosed with heart disease, exercise and eat right.
That’s because genetics play a significant role in heart disease.
In fact, a recent study of male twins, one lean and athletic and the other heavier and more sedentary, found that the brothers tended to show the same cholesterol response to high-fat and low-fat diets.
3. Women aren’t as susceptible to heart disease as men.
Nothing could be further from the truth.We now know that cardiovascular diseases affect more women than men.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, accounting for about 1 out of 4 female deaths.
In fact, nearly twice as many American women die of heart disease and stroke, as from all forms of cancer combined, including breast cancer.
- It is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. In the recent past, by the time many women were finally offered the standard tests given to men, they usually had a more advanced disease and their prognosis was poorer.
According to reports from the Texas Heart Institute, a leader in heart disease treatment and management, researchers have connected this pattern to decreasing levels of the female hormone estrogen during menopause—a process that begins around age 50 (earlier for some women).
“Estrogen is associated with higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good cholesterol”) and lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad cholesterol”).
➡ But, Withdrawal of the natural estrogen that occurs in menopause leads to lower “good cholesterol” and higher “bad cholesterol” thus increasing the risk of heart disease.”
Because the life expectancy for women in the United States is 79 years, women can expect to live a large part of their lives with an increased risk of heart disease.
At the present time, 1 out of 4 women older than 65 has some form of identified heart disease.
4. The routine cholesterol test gives an accurate measure of my LDL cholesterol. Sorry, wrong again.
- A little-known fact about the “routine cholesterol test” is that it estimates LDL cholesterol, instead of directly measuring it.
This process can result in a significant underestimation of a patient’s LDL level – and resulting heart disease risk.
5. If my good cholesterol (HDL) is high, I am protected against heart disease. Well, there’s a catch…
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the good kind)consists of “subclasses” (HDL2 and HDL3).
- While people with higher HDL2 are more protected against heart disease, those with more HDL3 may actually be at increased risk even if they have normal “total HDL.”
So, here’s an important reason why knowing your cholesterol numbers is not enough.
That’s almost twice the rate of routine cholesterol tests.
The VAP Cholesterol Test measures total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides.
- Triglycerides are the main components (ingredients) of natural fats and oils. High concentrations in the blood indicate a higher risk of stroke.
Triglycerides also break down cholesterol, further providing information to help your doctor assess your true risk of heart disease more accurately.
This simple blood test is available nationwide through national and regional diagnostic laboratories and is reimbursed by most insurance companies, including Medicare.
The next time you visit your doctor’s office, please discuss the type of cholesterol test he/she will order for you.
Let him/her know that you understand why knowing your cholesterol numbers is not enough to make you feel protected against the proven damage of heart disease and strokes.
You are your best advocate for your health.