Cholesterol is an important factor in your health; it can affect your blood pressure, cause hypertension, and lead to heart attacks and stroke. Every doctor out there is running total cholesterol tests just so that they can sell more statin drugs. I can’t tell you to come off of those drugs if you are taking them, but I can tell you to educate yourself. This test will save your life, and it’s the test I teach all of my doctors to do in their offices. This test looks not at total cholesterol, but at the particle number of cholesterol. It does measure your total cholesterol, and the interesting thing is that people with high cholesterol can have a normal particle number, while people with low cholesterol can have high particle numbers, which puts you at risk. Just because you have high cholesterol doesn’t mean you are at risk for a heart attack, just as having low cholesterol doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk – in fact, more people with normal cholesterol have heart attacks than those with high cholesterol. I run this test in my heart disease profile, along with other tests that will show inflammation, like a PLA2, C reactive protein tests, and an NMR test. The particle is what carries cholesterol in your body. If a particle is carrying a lot of cholesterol, that person will normally test as having high cholesterol, whereas someone would test as having low cholesterol if the particles were carrying a small amount. Think of an analogy where your body is a highway. The particles are represented by cars, and the cholesterol by the passengers in the car. In a traffic jam, the number of people in the cars is irrelevant; what will cause a traffic jam is the number of cars on the road. This is why it is the particle number, and not the amount of cholesterol, that matters.
The other important factor is the size of the particles. Larger particles do not pass into the arterial wall, but smaller particles will penetrate the wall and cause oxidation and inflammation. This causes a buildup of plaque, which is what leads to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. If we can determine the specific problem, we can administer the proper treatments, and this test can save your life.
NMR – (Particle number of cholesterol) Total cholesterol means very little as a predictor for heart disease, however the more particles of cholesterol the patient has the greater the risk of heart disease. On this test we only assess the P-LDL and the particle size. The particle number should be less than 1000 and the small particle should be less than 600.