The American Heart Association estimates there are over 80 million people in the United States who suffer from one or more of the following forms of Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD): High Blood Pressure, Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, or Heart Failure.
The sad truth is that while heart attack and stroke combine to kill more men and women worldwide than any other singular reason, they are also the most preventable. The following negative lifestyle conditions are primary causes:
- Tobacco use
- Lack of exercise
- Unhealthy diet
- Elevated blood sugar
Often interchanged with the term “heart disease”, CVD refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to heart attack, angina (chest pain), or stroke. Blood vessels narrow gradually, starting out small and building in size over time. Blockages, themselves, are made up of plaque formed by free radical damage and too much cholesterol within the arteries.
Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance transported by your blood to all the cells of your body. It is vitally important because it helps in the formation of cell membranes, certain hormones, and other types of tissues. It comes from only two sources: 1) your own body produces it (primarily in your liver), 2) foods you eat that come from animals (meats, dairy products, poultry, fish and seafood). Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds do not contain cholesterol.
But while cholesterol is essential to maintaining good health, too much of it poses dangerous health risks. In fact, higher than normal cholesterol levels can increase your risk of heart attack by more than 200%. Since there are no signs or symptoms of elevated cholesterol, blood testing is the only way to know for sure.
For the most meaningful evaluation of overall cholesterol health there are four different cholesterol components that must be evaluated: total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides:
- Total Cholesterol is the total amount of cholesterol in the blood.
- HDL (often called the "good cholesterol") helps to actually remove excess cholesterol.
- LDL (often called the "bad cholesterol") can slowly build up within artery walls.
- Triglycerides are naturally occurring tissues that form much of the fat stored by the body.
An estimated 98.6 million adults in the United States have total blood cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL and higher, and of those about 34.4 million American adults have values of 240 or higher. Total cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or above are considered high risk. Levels from 200 to 239 mg/dL are considered borderline-high risk.
Cholesterol testing should be done several times each year for those who have been prescribed diet and/or cholesterol lowering drugs, and at least every five years for all other adults.
Geonostics has made the process of collecting blood samples in specialty situations easier than ever. Through the use of customized collection kits, a four drop micro-sample specimen can be collected by health care professionals or directly through patients’ self-collection. Providers, as well as patients, appreciate the ease and convenience of finger stick collection, and with multiple transportation options, samples can be shipped to our lab from almost anywhere in the world.
Cholesterol screening plays an important role in early prevention of arterial plaque buildup. Increased awareness and ease of access to screening are key. The importance of cholesterol testing has never been greater, especially now that testing is easier than ever.