UNDERSTANDING YOUR VAP+ LIPID PANEL AND OTHER TEST RESULTS
Your VAP+ cholesterol test is known by your doctor as a lipid panel, because it actually consists of a panel of tests that identify different aspects of your blood chemistry.
Let’s start with a brief look at the top of your VAP+ report. The CVD Risk Assessment gives a snapshot of your cardiovascular risk. Each line summarizes the more detailed results found in the sections below. Pay particular attention to the caution markers on the side. Are there yellow or red flags? If so, the details of the other sections of the VAP+ report will help you understand what is causing them.
THE KEY TO CHOLESTEROL
Too much cholesterol = A problem
You probably have heard of “bad” cholesterol, also known as Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL). When you have too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up in the walls of your arteries. Also, the smaller the LDL particles, the more likely they are to cause plaque formation in the artery walls. This will lead to a heart attack if not managed.
LDL Particle Concentration
Cholesterol cannot move through your bloodstream by itself. It has to be carried by a vehicle in the blood. The LDL particle number (LDL-P) is a measurement of these LDL particles (or vehicles) are in your bloodstream. Everybody has LDL particles, but too many particles will lead to an increased risk of plaque formation which can lead to an increased risk of a heart attack.
DIRECTLY MEASURED CHOLESTEROL
The VAP+ report breaks your cholesterol test into three categories of risk: Cholesterol-rich, Triglyceride-rich, and Hereditary. Let’s look at each one separately.
The cholesterol section of your VAP+ report informs you of the bad cholesterol in your system and whether you should monitor it. It also points out the “good” cholesterol in your system, known as High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL). HDL travels through your bloodstream collecting cholesterol found in places it is not suppose be. If your results are flagged in this area, your doctor may discuss exercise, lowering the amount of fat in your diet, and may prescribe medication.
The triglycerides tab of your VAP+ report examines the fats in your bloodstream by evaluating several indicators. The remnant lipoproteins provide a measurement of how many extra triglyceride-rich particles you have in your system. When your diet is poor, your body produces more triglycerides, which cause your VLDL3 and your remnant lipoproteins to increase. If this increase in triglyceride particles continues, it causes the size of these cholesterol “vehicles” in your arterial highway to change from big to small. This means more LDL particles are circulating, and this is not what you want to see.
Your LDL Density Pattern tells the size of the vehicles traveling on your arterial highways and gives you an idea of your triglycerides status. Higher than normal amounts of triglycerides will cause normal sized LDL particles to become small and dense. If any of your results in this tab are flagged, your doctor may discuss exercise and lowering the sugars and starches in your diet, such as sweets, soft-drinks, and carbohydrates. You may also be prescribed medication.
There are some vehicles traveling your arterial highways you can’t do anything about. Lp(a), for example, is a genetic risk marker that may put you at a greater risk for a heart attack or stroke. Lp(a) is a risk because it can increase your risk for blood clots. While you may not be able to change Lp(a) with traditional lifestyle modification, its presence may change the way your doctor evaluates your overall risk. It is another reason to discontinue bad habits that increase your risk for a heart attack like smoking or being sedentary.
ADDITIONAL TESTS OFFERED
In some circumstances, your doctor may order additional tests for a more complete picture of your cardiovascular risk. You may see tests that fall under the following categories:
Tests that fall under this category identify whether there is any inflammation in your arteries. Think of inflammation as irritation in the walls of your arteries. Small cholesterol particles are attracted to these areas, which leads to the build-up of plaque in your artery walls and a greater possibility of heart attack or stroke.
Examples of inflammatory markers include:
As we mentioned earlier, the VAP+ report informs you as to how your triglycerides are progressing as an indicator of cardiovascular risk. Medical science tells us that a person with high triglycerides is also at risk for diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of medical conditions that may lead to diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
Examples of glycemic markers include:
- Glycated Albumin
Oxidative stress is caused when free radicals or oxidized proteins in your bloodstream react with various metabolites to create damages, which in turn, cause inflammation. In this setting, LDL cholesterol becomes oxidized and causes even more inflammation. As we mentioned before, inflamed sites in your arteries are where cholesterol collects. Oxidative stress creates the perfect environment for the cholesterol built up in your system to take that next step toward atherosclerosis by attaching to the walls of your arterial highways, creating hardened or thickened arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Examples of oxidative stress include:
- Uric Acid
Results that fall under the Renal Markers tab help your doctor determine how well your kidneys are functioning. This is important because the is a direct link to kidney health and your heart health. This is because the kidneys have a vessel network that it extremely delicate, and if they begin to fail due to cardiovascular risk factors, it is only a matter of time when the heart and brain will become effected.
Examples of renal markers include:
- Cystatin C