Early detection of cardiovascular risk factors will significantly reduce the chance of a heart attack or stroke. Most of us have our cholesterol checked yearly. However, a recent US study showed that nearly 75% of patients that were hospitalized for a heart attack had normal cholesterol levels. This demonstrates that there are many other factors that play into cardiovascular events.
For example, specialized testing can reveal oxidized LDL. This is a subtype of LDL or the “bad cholesterol”. Oxidized LDL is shown to increase the risk of coronary artery diseases by four times and metabolic syndrome by three and a half times. The result is an elevated risk of having a heart attack. It has also been shown that people with high levels of oxidized LDL have a poorer outcome after a heart attack.
Lipoprotein(a) is another important biomarker for cardiovascular disease. Lipoprotein(a) can cause carotid plaques as seen on imaging of the heart. It also can cause hardening of the inner most (intima) layer of arteries. This requires a special type of ultrasound called a carotid intima media thickness (IMT) ultrasound to determine the damage. Elevated levels of lipoprotein(a) can increase the risk of coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, blood clots and heart attacks.
There are multiple factors that can determine the underlying causes of cardiac disease. Without intervention the continued damage to vessels can increase the risk of unstable lesions. The lesions become in danger of rupturing and leading to cardiac events. Your Naturopathic Doctor can recommend tests to help to determine these risk factors. Identifying specific risk factors allows the patient to focus on lifestyle modifications and naturopathic treatments specific to their underlying causes.