Has anyone had this test? I just got my results and it was mind blowing to hear my doctor say they don't even really care anymore about total cholesterol numbers as much as particle sizes of hdl and ldl and percentages of each as well as genetic markers that are indicators of potential coronary artery disease.. Does anyone know the details of what we should be concerned about with this?
Well, sort of. Cholesterol is a necessary steroid in the body that is part of normal cell functioning. Often you hear people and doctors say that they are looking for elevated "bad cholesterol levels." But, that's not so cut and dry anymore.
Most of the cholesterol in the body is produced by the liver. A significantly smaller amount comes from dietary sources, such as meat, eggs, and dairy products. Cholesterol travels throughout the body via the blood stream, being absorbed by cells along the way to be used for important processes, such as hormone production and cell membrane repair. Because it isn't water soluble, cholesterol is ferried along the bloodstream encased in protein. These cholesterol-filled protein orbs are called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins come in a variety of sizes that behave differently from one another. Broadly, health care providers and scientists talk about low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Low density lipoproteins are the ones that tend to get "stuck" in the arteries over time and cause a lot of the problems we associate with heart disease.
Although the biochemistry involved isn't simple, the take home message is that LDL has been found to contribute to the formation of plaques on the artery walls, while HDL seems to generally help prevent their formation. Accordingly, LDL is often called "bad" cholesterol while HDL is called "good" cholesterol. (These terms apply only to blood cholesterol; dietary cholesterol is neither good nor bad in this sense.)
Sometimes LDL can form clots in the blood and break loose to run into the lungs or heart and cause an embolism. But this is most often associated with a genetic disorder called thrombophilia. If you have this genetic make-up, then the chances of you developing clots is nearly quadrupled.
So, boil it down....there is a lot of research out there that shows connections between certain things and certain effects. Sometimes these have a direct connection, sometimes they are less direct. In the past, we generalized, HDL good LDL bad. Well, scientists have found that it is not quite so simple as that, and more comprehensive testing can let a doctor know EXACTLY what your SPECIFIC issue is and therefore how to best treat it.
That's why they go to school for 12 years AFTER PRIMARY SCHOOL!!! (And more after that to keep up with the scoop). It sounds to me as though your doctor is VERY WELL informed and one to keep yourself associated with.
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