By Mimi Guarneri, MD, FACC
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in men and women. While doctors have blamed cholesterol levels for decades, much research now points to inflammation as a more widespread underlying cause of coronary artery disease. Heart health testing is changing.
Studies reveal that the prevalence of High-Sensitivity C-reactive Protein (hs-CRP ) which measures inflammation is more impactful than LDL cholesterol in predicting heart disease risk. In other words, if two people have the same LDL cholesterol levels, the individual with the higher hs-CPR has poorer health than the one with cardiovascular disease. CVD is an inflammatory disease that has very specific markers. While awareness of your cholesterol levels is important, it’s also imperative to test for inflammation. These tests could save your life.
Biomarkers that can predict cardiovascular disease:
Advanced Lipid Panel: monitors LDL molecule size and LDL-particle levels
ApoB: assesses the existence of artery-clogging particles
HDL2B: indicates how well excess lipids are removed from cells
Oxidized LDL: indicates LDL cholesterol damaged by free radicals
Hs-CRP: measures overall inflammation
LpPLA2 + MPO: measures artery inflammation
Puls Score: inflammation markers that predict cardiovascular event risk for the next 5 years
TMAO: a gut bacteria byproduct that can lead to cardiovascular disease, including stroke and heart attacks.
INFLAMMATION IN GENERAL
Think of chronic inflammation as a smoldering fire. It not only impacts the cardiovascular system, but can also contribute to cancer, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, and more. Heart health testing is a critical component of preventative medicine.
Inflammation can stem from food sensitivities, gut issues, environmental toxins, heavy metals, and stress. Functional testing reveals how the brain or gut is working and these tests are an addition to traditional bloodwork. These biomarker evaluations and tests can pinpoint the source of your inflammation and overall health:
Food Sensitivities Assessment
Bloodwork uncovers food sensitivities and further addressed via an elimination diet. Common inflammatory substances include dairy, soy, nuts, eggs, wheat, and gluten. Food sensitivities can spark low-grade but chronic inflammation. Symptoms include joint and muscle pain, headaches, brain fog, sinus congestion, IBS, and more.
A blood and urine test using NutrEval Plasma® evaluates 125 biomarkers, measuring your body’s need for 40 antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, digestive support, essential fatty acids, and amino acids. This test also screens for the heavy metals that can exacerbate cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. Because heart and cognitive disease are linked to oxidative stress, staying on top of your levels of antioxidants and micronutrients helps you stay as healthy as possible.
Adrenal Stress Index
This salivary test determines levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that creates damage in the body. Chronic stress interrupts sleep which makes you feel fatigued during the day. High cortisol levels can be balanced with nutraceuticals or adaptogens.
A stool test examines the cross-section of the bacteria strains living in the gut as well as the pathogens, and parasites making their home there.
Another important microbiome marker is TMAO (Trimethylamine N-oxide). High levels are linked to cardiovascular disease.
Options for Heart Health Testing and Cardiovascular Testing
If heart disease runs in your family or you’re curious about your heart disease risk for other reasons, don’t wait to explore your body’s inflammation levels. In addition to the tests listed here, you can undergo the Pacific Pearl La Jolla’s Cardiovascular Imaging Package, which bundles multiple important tests. The Pearl’s Comprehensive Health Assessments reveal the underlying causes of your health challenges and end in the production of a personalized care plan – your roadmap to optimal health that addresses nutrition, sleep, hormone balance, physical strength, and mind-body medicine. If you have questions, you can leave them on our online form here or call 858-459-6919. We look forward to hearing from you!