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Have you been through the gauntlet of cardiovascular tests, only to be given a “total cholesterol” number at the end that the doctor wasn’t happy with? Since your total cholesterol number doesn’t really tell us anything useful, let’s break those lab results down into something that does!

Top 5 Lab Tests for Heart Health:

1. Triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood and a well-established predictor of heart disease. Your triglyceride number measures how well your body is able to metabolize the sugar and carbohydrates (which turn into sugar) that you’re eating. Triglycerides matter. A high triglyceride number indicates a high potential for inflammation. (Even people who can eat whatever they want without gaining a pound may have high triglycerides and internal inflammation because the body can’t process the amount of sugar they’re consuming.) Sugar, processed carbohydrates and alcohol affect triglycerides negatively (by increasing them). You should aim for your triglyceride number to be less than 100 mg/dL and ideally closer to 50 mg/dL.

2. CRP. Your C-Reactive Protein is a general blood marker for inflammation in the body. It measures a protein that signals a response to inflammation, and is directly associated with overall heart and cardiovascular health. Increased CRP without any acute inflammation happening (from an infection, recent injury or surgery) may mean inflammation in the vessels. Not good. You want your CRP level well below 1.0 mg/dL and preferably closer to 0 mg/dL, indicating that no inflammation exists.

3. HDL. HDL helps with transporting those triglycerides through your bloodstream. This means having a high HDL level is heart protective. Ideally, you want your HDL above 50 mg/dL. We’ve seen clients come in with a low number and increase it to 70 mg/dL and even 80 mg/dL by following our guidelines—which is fantastic for their hearts! You can increase your HDL by consuming fewer carbs and more healthy fats, especially the saturated kind like full-fat grass fed meat and dairy. Getting in physical activity also helps increase your HDL.

4. LDL. Similar to the problem with your total cholesterol number, your LDL cholesterol number isn't much help without knowing the whole makeup of the LDL. You see, there are two particle sizes: big fluffy type A profile particles (these are good!) and small, dense type B particles (these are harmful). Knowing the ratio of type A to type B is what really matters. You can find out the full breakdown of your LDL by getting a NMR Lipoprofile test. If you're total LDL number is considered "high," many doctors will firmly suggest a drug without ever running this test and finding out your LDL particle size.

5. HgbA1C. Hemoglobin A1C is a type of hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen) that increases as blood sugars increase. It measures the sugar sticking to your red blood cells. Because red blood cells last about three months, this lab value reflects how well your blood sugar levels are controlled over a three month time frame.  This makes it a better indicator of how well you're managing your blood sugar levels than measuring one point in time which is what a fasting blood glucose test measures. You want your HgbA1C to be in the 4-5%range.

Here's a quick review on how you can support your heart:

To learn how each of these things support your heart, refer to my post, “7 Ways to Protect Your Heart Naturally” and don't miss my post, "7 Things Your Doctor Didn't Tell You About Heart Health."

Now, if you’re still feeling confused about your cholesterol lab test results and you need help interpreting them, we do just that in our coaching program. We’ll help you decipher everything and get you on track to managing your cholesterol and supporting your heart in a way that suits your lifestyle. (We don’t believe in a “one-size-fits-all approach!). Apply to our program and we'll set up a call to discuss the best fit for you HERE!

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