Cholesterol and Blood Tests
Cholesterol is greatly maligned these days, with most people under the impression that it is something that could kill us, much like a cancer or tumour. The scientific facts actually present a rather different story, and knowing them enables you to take a far more balanced view and make some well-informed choices.
What is Cholesterol and why do we need it?
Here are a few facts everyone should know about cholesterol when making decisions about their health and medication.
It is essential for our bodies to function.
Without cholesterol you would die -
- it's used to make hormones like estrogen and testosterone;
- it's transported into the adrenal gland to aid in hormone synthesis, repair nerves, and make bile for fat digestion;
- it's a structural component of our cells;
- it synthesizes vitamin D.
The majority of the cholesterol in our blood comes from our own bodies making it.
People mistakenly think they get most of their cholesterol from their food - not so. Only 15 percent of the cholesterol that you consume is absorbed and used by the body; the other 85 percent is excreted.
If our levels of cholesterol are too low, that can play a negative role in our health and wellbeing.
Low cholesterol can be an indicator of autoimmune disease or even cancer.
Total cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol are only weakly associated with heart disease.
Which Blood Tests Should I ask for?
Listed below are some of the best blood tests to get done in our view:
- HDL or High Density Lipo-protein
- Triglycerides/HDL ratio
- LDL or Low Density Lipo-protein
- Ask if you can get an LDL Particle Size Test done! You might find it hard to get one, but ask anyway and see what they say.
- Blood Glucose
- C - Reactive Protein
- Haemoglobin A1C (HbA1c)
To take control of your health, always ask for these tests - and if you are concerned about your heart health ask for a full explanation from your doctor or medical consultant. If you find that they are unwilling to do the above make a fuss and demand that they are done - if they refuse change your doctor. Just having a total cholesterol figure is meaningless - and just having an HDL/LDL ratio is about as useless.
Once you have the tests in the above list done, come in and have a chat with us and we can talk you through the figures so that you are better informed about what it all means when you next meet with your medical professional. Better yet, arrange a consultation with our resident Dr Thomas Wood and he can explain everything in detail.