It’s a common scenario: You go to your doctor for your annual checkup and undergo a standard blood test for cholesterol. If you fall within the normal range, you breathe a sigh of relief. You have nothing to worry about, right?
Wrong, says top cardiologist Michael Ozner, M.D., medical director of the Cardiovascular Prevention Institute of South Florida. “Half of the people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels. We are missing the boat by simply measuring cholesterol – instead we should also be measuring the number of particles that carry cholesterol,” he says.
Dr. Ozner says there is a relatively new form of cholesterol testing that can uncover hidden heart risk and save your life. In his new book, Heart Attack Proof, he contends that millions of people are living with a false sense of security because of outmoded cholesterol testing, and underestimating their risk of cardiovascular disease.
“Americans are simply taking the wrong tests, measuring the wrong things, and standing by while heart attacks unnecessarily claim the lives of millions,” he told Newsmax Health.
Chief among these tests is the standard cholesterol test. This test, developed nearly 40 years ago, was once the best available, says Dr. Ozner. But these days, an enhanced “advanced lipid test” is far superior because it provides information not only about the amount of cholesterol in the blood, but how it is comprised.
Cholesterol is a necessary fat, or lipid, which occurs naturally in the body. However, too much cholesterol in the blood can form atherosclerotic plaques, which are like pimples in the artery walls, which lead to heart attacks and strokes.
The standard cholesterol test doctors typically use provides information on low-density LDL “bad” cholesterol, high-density (HDL) “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides, a fat in the blood that also increases heart disease risk. This test falls short because it does not provide information on either apoB or LDL-P levels, which are measurements that refer to the number of cholesterol particles the blood contains.
“It’s not that the standard lipid profile is worthless – it’s not. But standard cholesterol testing uncovers only 40 percent of a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease while advanced lipid test uncovers 90 percent,” Dr. Ozner says.
In Heart Attack Proof he outlines a plan to prevent or reverse heart disease using lifestyle changes, weight loss, diet, exercise, supplements, and, in some cases, medications. But the key, says Dr. Ozner, is knowing if you are at risk – and that’s why the advanced lipid test is so important. The test is performed at most comprehensive medical labs, but doctors do not routinely order it.
When you go for a physical, you should insist that your doctor include this test, which is often covered by insurance, says Dr. Ozner.
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