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Taking The Anxiety Out Of Heart Health Lab Testing

By Expert HERWriter
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Since February is American Heart Month, it is an excellent time to talk about blood tests related to heart health.

It is important not to look at only one test but instead to look at what the combination of tests tell you about your health and risk of heart disease.

This will be a two-part article. In this first blog I will talk about the more traditional tests, the ones that tend to be covered by insurance companies. In the next article I will talk about some newer tests that are now being used specifically for heart disease.

A lipid panel is at group of tests that give information about our cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Here are the tests you would find in a lipid panel.

Total cholesterol levels are the sum of cholesterol content in your blood.

Normal cholesterol should be below 200 mg/dL.

High cholesterol is above 200mg/dL.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol acts as a shuttle carrying cholesterol from the liver to the tissues. High levels of LDL can accumulate as fatty plaques and block the arteries.

LDL is often referred to as bad cholesterol.
Optimal LDL level are less than 130 mg/dL.
High LDL levels are above 130 mg/dL.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol acts as a shuttle carrying cholesterol from the tissues and back the liver to dispose of it. This keeps the arteries open and flowing.

HDL is often referred to as good cholesterol.
Low levels are less than 60 mg/dL.
Normal levels are be 60 mg/dL .
High levels are above 60 mg/dL.

Triglycerides are another type of fat found in the blood. While triglycerides are created in the body they also come from foods you consume. When you consume more calories than your body needs it can cause your triglycerides to be high.

Normal levels are less than 150 mg/dL.
Borderline high levels are 150 - 199 mg/dL.
High levels are 200 - 499 mg/dL.
Very high levels are 500 mg/dL or above.

I also recommend an additional test added to the lipid panel which is a test of the total cholesterol/HDL level ratio. To find the ratio you divide the total cholesterol number by the HDL number.

The American Heart Association recommends the ratio be 5 to 1 or better.

I also would include your blood glucose level and HbA1c levels. I know that these are measures for hyperglycemia, or diabetes, however diabetes increases the risk of heart disease so knowing if you are diabetic is an important fact for heart disease.

These lab values allow you to get good understanding about your heart health. For more specialized heart health markers check out my next article.

Live Vibrantly,

Dr. Dae

Dr. Dae's website: www.healthydaes.org

Download one of Dr. Dae's books: Daelicious! Recipes for Vibrant Living, Eating Healthy for the Holidays, Cultivate Health: Recipes for Diabetic or Pre-Diabetic Conditions @ www.healthydaes.org

Dr. Dae's Bio:

Dr. Daemon Jones is a Naturopathic Physician who maintains a holistic practice by treating patients all over the country using Skype and phone visits. She helps her patients harvest health and feel great, using a combination of safe and effective naturopathic and conventional methods.


"Simple Blood Test Predicts Heart Disease." WebMD - Better information. Better health.. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2013.

"Blood tests for heart disease - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2013.

"Homocysteine Levels and Heart Disease Risk." WebMD - Better information. Better health.. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2013.

"Triglyceride level: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia." National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Feb. 2013.

"Finding the Ideal Cholesterol Ratio." WebMD - Better information. Better health.. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Feb. 2013.

Reviewed February 6, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.