Two new tests help detect risk for heart disease and stroke

Posted by: admin on: October 19, 2011

There are at least two newer tests perhaps more important than cholesterol level that can help a doctor see just how likely it is you’re at risk.


  • You’ve probably heard that cholesterol levels and blood pressure can indicate your risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • But now there are at least two newer tests perhaps more important than cholesterol level that can help a doctor see just how likely it is you’re at risk.
  • Cholesterol is carried through blood in particles called a lipo-protein, it turns out how many one has is a good indicator of ones risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • It doesn’t matter so much how much cholesterol is in each particle. It matters much more how many particles one has,” said Dr. George Chaconas, a family practice physician who runs the Center for Advanced Lipid Management in Southwest Roanoke County.
  • It’s more important than smoking, more important than diabetes, more important than hypertension, Dr. Chaconas said.
  • Now there’s a blood test called the NMR LipoProfile test to check how many particles are in the blood.
  • The problems happen when those particles stick to the arteries lining.
  • The more particles in your blood and also the older a person is, the thicker the lining can be.
  • Sometimes the vessel gets very clogged which restricts blood flow and increases the person’s chances for clotting and ultimately a stroke or heart attack.
  • Dr Chaconas uses a special ultrasound which measures the lining in the carotid artery.
  • That’s the main vessel leading out of the heart to the brain.
  • Using a special ultrasound he can view the artery on a TV screen and see the lining.
  • That’s where all the LDL particles have stuck throughout the lifetime, Dr. Chaconas said.
  • If the doctor finds too many particles in the blood and a thick lining in the artery wall, a more aggressive approach to ward off heart disease and stroke can be taken.
  • One can reduce it with the same medicines we use to reduce cholesterol.
  • We can reduce it with the same type of lifestyle changes weight loss, lower saturated fat exercise, said Dr. Chaconas.
  • Dr Chaconas says some people have low cholesterol levels and still have high particle count.
  • Those particulary at risk include diabetics, those with slightly higher than normal blood sugar, people with abdominal fat where the belly is bigger than the hips, and people who are already taking a statin drug, according to Dr. Chaconas.

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