LIPIDS AND HEART HEALTH
There are all kinds of substances—fatty acids, waxes, and more—that fall into a category of naturally-occurring molecules known as lipids (fats). However, the lipids that concern most people today are those that your doctor reviews closely when you receive a blood test. These include triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (known as LDL-C, or “bad” cholesterol), and high-density lipoprotein (known as HDL-C, or “good” cholesterol). Some physicians also track another lipid molecule known as Apo B.
Measurements of your cholesterol and triglycerides are provided to your doctor in a report known as your lipid profile. Your lipid profile may also calculate your total cholesterol and your non-HDL cholesterol.
At one time, your lipid profile scores were a major determinant in assessing your risk of heart disease and in helping your doctor to prescribe treatment. In 2013, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association published new guidelines that moved away from lipid profile scores to determine treatment and recommended a different approach based on 10-year risk factors.
The newer guidelines are discussed widely within the medical community. Your doctor may still wish to review your lipid profile scores with you.
Triglycerides are one of several lipids found in your blood. When you consume calories that you don’t need right away, your body converts the calories into triglycerides. High levels of triglycerides may increase your risk of heart disease.
LDL-C stands for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol. There is a large body of evidence that shows a correlation between the levels of LDL-C in the body and the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Consequently, LDL-C is known as a marker, a sign that an individual has an increased risk of developing heart disease.
HDL-C, or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, is the “good” cholesterol, so called because it helps remove other forms of cholesterol from your bloodstream.
Apolipoprotein B, also called Apo B, is the primary protein found in lipoproteins including LDL-C and VLDL-C (very low density lipoprotein cholesterol). While not typically included as part of your lipid profile, some doctors do take Apo B into account in their overall risk assessments.